After being benched by Croatian manager Ante Cacic over the international break, Liverpool center-back Dejan Lovren has made his feelings clear.
“I will either travel to France as a starting player or I am not going.”
Those are the words of Lovren threatening to sit out this summer’s European Championship if he is going to be a bench player.
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The bad blood between Lovren and his manager Cacic started over the international break in March. Cacic chose to leave Lovren on the bench for a friendly against Hungary, accusing the Liverpool defender of not warming up properly.
Speaking to Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti, Lovren explained his side of the story.
I will not apologise, I will either travel to France as a starting player or I am not going.
I always get angry when the media comes out with half-truths so, to tell you what happened, the conditioning coach came to me and told me to go and warm up for 10 to 15 minutes.
I said okay and I started to warm up. After 15 minutes, when I finished warming up, I began to get cold because I didn’t have a jacket so went back to the bench. Then, after a minute, the fitness coach comes again and asks me, ‘So why did you sit on the bench?’ I told him he said to warm up for 10 to 15 minutes and I did it.
Then he immediately said that to Cacic. Look, nobody in the world does not work (after) such long warming up. At Liverpool, when warmed up, we enter the game or after 15 minutes go back to the bench.
I was told I would play the second half in Budapest. I was ready and also, the coach said we will all get a chance. And I didn’t.
By going public with his account of the incident, Lovren may have caused an even bigger divide between himself and his manager. It’s hard to believe one argument over warmups could upset a player so much that he would threaten to sit out a major tournament, as there very well may have been previous issues between the two that have finally boiled over.
At 26-years-old and with 31 caps for his national side, Lovren was an important part of the Croatia setup heading into EURO 2016. He was named to Croatia’s EURO 2012 squad but was forced to withdraw through injury, and played every minute of the team’s 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil.