Laporte admits he was jealous watching France win the World Cup

Aymeric Laporte felt jealous when watching France win the World Cup having been left out of Didier Deschamps’ squad.

Manchester City defender Laporte was among the headline absentees, although he is uncapped, having been included in a squad for friendly matches in March.

The 24-year-old centre-back also qualifies to play for Spain and said it was tough to watch Les Bleus succeed without him.

“There was jealousy, to be honest,” Laporte told reporters. “The decisions were made and you just have to accept them – that’s how it is in football.

“It didn’t come as a surprise to me that I wasn’t involved. I hadn’t been in the previous squad – that had been named without me – but it was still a little disappointing for me not to be involved.

“It was a really good summer. There was plenty of relaxing with family and friends. I was really happy to get back home after a tough season.”

Laporte is now focusing on life at City after helping the club to a runaway Premier League title success last term, Pep Guardiola’s side also claiming the EFL Cup.

“I’ve had a really good six months here,” the former Athletic Bilbao defender said. “We won two titles and obviously, we won a lot of games.

“It would have been nice if we’d have played in the latter rounds of the Champions League but that’s something we can work towards this year.

“I feel like I’ve been a starter since I’ve been here. I’ll keep working to stay in the first XI and if we’re winning games, then I hope I can do that. Everyone wants to start and I’m working towards that.

“Pep is the best manager in the world – he’s always looking to help me get better and improve my game. He’s demanding, yes, but it’s not scary. His is a style of play that I really enjoy.

“I think I can improve and so can the team, playing like this. I’m comfortable with what he asks me to do. It’s been a great move – a perfect move for me.”

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Matip limps out of ICC clash against Dortmund with muscle injury

Liverpool defender Joel Matip limped out of his team’s International Champions Cup match clash against Borussia Dortmund on Sunday with a muscle injury.

Just 22 minutes into the match in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Cameroonian pulled up and had to be replaced by Joe Gomez. 

The injury could be particularly troublesome for Matip, who struggled with thigh injuries through last season. 

In January, Matip was forced to miss several games due to a thigh problem. 

Then in early April, Matip had thigh surgery which required him to sit out the rest of the 2017-18 campaign. 

Following the match Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the injury wasn’t to Matip’s troublesome thigh, and he was hopeful it was not a significant problem. 

“No, it’s not the same injury, it’s another muscle,” Klopp said.

“But it looks like it’s only a little tear. Obviously we cannot say more about this now, but that’s of course the most negative thing about the day. It’s not cool.

““We don’t want these things to happen but they can. Maybe tomorrow or the day after, we will know more. Right now all we know is that his pain was too painful to carry on.”

The Reds will hope that the 26-year-old’s injury is more minor this time around after a season in which he made 35 appearances in all competitions. 

Liverpool continue their ICC campaign with matches against Manchester City on Wednesday and Manchester United on Saturday. 

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Pulisic banned from winning Man of the Match due to American alcohol laws

Christian Pulisic’s performance against Liverpool on Sunday was easily good enough to earn a Man of the Match award, but there was one problem: he wasn’t old enough. 

Pulisic scored two second-half goals and helped set up a third in a 3-1 International Champions Cup victory over Liverpool in Charlotte, N.C.

On most days, that would be enough to be named the game’s top performer. 

But Sunday’s award was sponsored by Heineken and the 19-year-old Pulisic was not eligible, due to the legal drinking age in the United States being 21. 

Instead the award went to Virgil van Dijk, who in addition to scoring a first-half goal for Liverpool, is 27 years old and can legally drink alcohol in the U.S. 

Despite missing the award on a technicality, Pulisic put on a show at Bank of America Stadium after being introduced as a half-time substitute. 

Pulisic won a 66th-minute penalty that he converted himself, then grabbed an 89th-minute winner by finishing off a flowing Dortmund counter-attack. 

Deep into stoppage time, the U.S. international beat his defender in the box and Loris Karius parried his shot into the path of Jacob Bruun Larsen, who finished into an empty net. 

The U.S. star will look to continue his strong ICC performances on Wednesday against Benfica, though the Man of the Match award will remain beyond his reach!

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Matip limps out of ICC clash against Dortmund with thigh injury

Liverpool defender Joel Matip limped out of his team’s International Champions Cup match clash against Borussia Dortmund on Sunday with thigh injury.

Just 22 minutes into the match in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Cameroonian pulled up and had to be replaced by Joe Gomez. 

The injury could be particularly troublesome for Matip, who struggled with thigh injuries through last season. 

In January, Matip was forced to miss several games due to a thigh problem. 

Then in early April, Matip had thigh surgery which required him to sit out the rest of the 2017-18 campaign. 

The Reds will hope that the 26-year-old’s injury is more minor this time around after a season in which he made 35 appearances in all competitions. 

Liverpool continue their ICC campaign with matches against Manchester City on Wednesday and Manchester United on Saturday. 

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Ozil right to retire from Germany after disgraceful treatment

Just days after Germany returned home from being humiliated at the World Cup, German football association (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel demanded a public statement from Mesut Ozil about the Arsenal star’s pre-tournament meeting with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On Sunday, Grindel received exactly what he asked for. But it was definitely not what he wanted or expected from the 93-time Germany international.

In a lengthy three-part statement, released section-by-section during the course of the day, Ozil meticulously detailed his account of his meeting with Erdogan, the media criticism that followed and then launched into a scathing attack on Grindel and his supporters before confirming his international retirement.

The statement was strong, considered and showed exactly why the 29-year-old took such time to react to his treatment following Germany’s World Cup exit. For the first time in 80 years, Germany had failed to get out of their group at the tournament, but instead of placing the blame on head coach Joachim Low or introspectively assessing what the DFB could have done better before and during the competition, Ozil was turned into a scapegoat by not only the media, but by people inside his own football association including general manager Oliver Bierhoff and Grindel.

Ahead of the World Cup, Ozil and team-mate Ilkay Gundogan – both of whom have Turkish roots – were photographed with Erdogan in London, sparking outcry from pundits and media who criticised the star for mixing football and politics. Gundogan admitted that the meeting was not political, with Ozil’s initial statement on Sunday confirming that his intentions were also not motivated by politics, merely respecting the position of president and the country of his ancestors.

“In May, I met President Erdogan in London, during a charitable and educational event. We first met in 2010 after he and Angela Merkel watched the Germany vs Turkey match together in Berlin,” the statement read.

“Since then, out paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe. I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.”

Despite distancing himself from the situation before and during the World Cup, Ozil continued to be criticised and this vitriol only increased after Germany’s shock exit. Fans booed him during a pre-tournament friendly against Austria, while his decision not to sing the national anthem while playing in Russia was also repeatedly highlighted. When he was dropped from the starting XI against Sweden, commentators in Germany pointed out how all 11 players were singing the anthem.

In his final statement, where he confirmed his retirement, Ozil cited racism as one of the reasons for his decision, referencing times where he was abused for his ancestry, including an instance where he was called a “goat-f***er” by a prominent politician. 

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect,” Ozil wrote.

“I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement but now I don’t. This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my team-mates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.

“But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough. That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted.”

Mesut Ozil World Cup 2014 15072014

Between his debut in 2009 and his final appearance in June, Ozil played almost 100 times for Germany, helping them win the World Cup in 2014 and even was voted as Germany’s national player of the year on five separate occasions.

To claim he is anything other than 100 per cent committed to Germany is madness, but Grindel should not be surprised by Sunday’s statement. With the way he has been treated by the DFB and the media in his own country, why would someone as talented as Ozil continue to play for a team who does not respect him?

Since the World Cup, nobody within the DFB has lost their job and the head coach has been retained, while Ozil has been victimised with the larger problems that led to their Russian failure ignored and brushed aside.

A lot of the decision-making around Germany’s 2018 World Cup was wrong, including the choice of base camp, the choice to leave the likes of Leroy Sane and Sandro Wagner at home, the choices around the starting XIs in each group game…

The DFB and Germany got many choices wrong, but most of all, they left Ozil with no choice other than this one.

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