The PSG star reveals his disappointment with recent media reports and discusses some of the difficulties of being a professional footballer
This week, people have said many things about me that are not true – things that have not happened.
Against Marseille last Sunday, I took several kicks in the first half, so it was decided at half-time, along with Unai Emery, that we would take a decision 15 minutes into the second period. We did not want to take any risks because I’ve come through a very difficult period in terms of injuries and the medical staff wanted to be careful with me.
So after 15 minutes in the second half, Emery decided to sub me off… and from that moment, everything I have heard, everything I have read and everything I have seen has been about me and that subject.
It was said that I was angry because with the coach because I did not want to leave the pitch. This is not true. I was frustrated with myself because I wanted to help the team out, and to go off because of a physical problem was unthinkable for me. I’m angry because every time I take a kick I have to go off and it is hard to accept. Naijabet.com
With the coach, we saw each other the next day and we couldn’t understand what was happening. We do not understand how we could create such a controversy from that.
When I came out of the game, I put the hand in front of my mouth to say: “Coach, I could have continued, I felt good.”
The coach then replied that he felt I was not going so well. Then I removed my hand and said: “He says I am not good.”
In reality, he was right. Sometimes, even in training, I won’t say if I’ve got some pain so I can continue to play. It’s because I simply want to play, nothing more.
I don’t like it when journalists create controversy where there is none. I respect the opinion of journalists and I often agree with them when they criticise my performances. However, I don’t accept it when they report that I have said something I have not.
I hear and read that I don’t have a good relationship with the coach. Again, this is not true. One may not agree with the coach, but one must always respect his choices. And I always would.
When the results are not there, people start to find problems in the team … Everybody respects the coach and I think that we’ve already shown that. Unai Emery works hard and it’s not his fault we have had a mixed start to the season. It is us, the players, who are on the field. We must take responsibility! There are games that we have not won because we were not focused 100%. And to win you have to be 110%.
It’s easy to create controversy. It sells papers, it makes watching TV worthwhile, and gets people to listen to the radio. But really, I don’t understand why it has come to that.
Journalists expect that something must happen to create a buzz all week. Us players, we are used to that, but we don’t like it. It’s normal to have discussions between ourselves. We are here to win, we are not here to fritter away the days and then go home. If we were here for that, we would accept anything. But this is not the case.
It’s gone too far this week and even my agent exaggerated a bit to say that I could leave the club.
I am not here to win over journalists, I am here to do good work for Paris Saint-Germain. I’ve never had a problem here in five years, so it hurts when I started reading that I am a selfish boy, I’m vicious, I disrespect people … I love the club, I like my team-mates and you can ask anyone here, no-one will say bad things about me.
I have another example: once we played at 17:00 and we had two days of rest after the game. I went out with my wife and friends at night. From that, we managed to create a controversy with people saying that I should not go to clubs, even if it’s very rare for me! I am a person like any other; I have a private life too. And this is just one personal example.
I think we must, first and foremost, be judged for what we do on the field and not away from it. We work hard all week to be good for 90 minutes. This is not because we are well paid; it is because we’re professional. I would never go out if I had training the next day. If I lose a match, I can be disappointed for a whole week!
I’ve always had good relationships with my coaches and that’s the case with Unai Emery. He likes to talk to us individually and that’s important to me. He always makes you feel that you are important, whether you play or not.
I have been lucky to have had great coaches, who have made football history, such as Carlo Ancelotti. All the players loved him and he’s a friend to me because it helped me a lot outside of football too.
Laurent Blanc, too, was very calm. When there was a lot of pressure, we would see this quiet coach, and it was really important.
Unai Emery puts more feelings in his management and we love it. Again, nothing has happened. Stop talking about it and concentrate on what we do on the field.