Monday, September 24, 2018

Lopetegui not interested in Mendes criticism of Ronaldo snub for UEFA prize

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 31 Aug 2018

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Real Madrid head coach Julen Lopetegui refused to bite back at Jorge Mendes after the agent said it was “ridiculous” for Luka Modric to beat his client Cristiano Ronaldo to an award.

Modric, who also won the Golden Ball after leading Croatia to their first World Cup final, was named UEFA Player of the Year for 2017-18.

The midfielder was instrumental in Madrid winning the Champions League for the third year in a row under Lopetegui’s predecessor Zinedine Zidane, Modric also pipping Liverpool star Mohamed Salah to the prize.

Mendes, though, made his feelings clear in an interview with Portuguese outlet Record.

“Football is played on the field and that’s where Cristiano won,” Mendes said. “He scored 15 goals, carried Real Madrid on his back and conquered the Champions League again. It’s ridiculous, shameful. The winner is not in doubt, as Ronaldo is the best in his position.”

Ronaldo, who did not attend Thursday’s ceremony, won the award for best forward in last season’s Champions League, Madrid completing a clean sweep with Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos also honoured.

Lopetegui was unwilling to bite at Mendes’ provocation, though, with Ronaldo having left Madrid for Juventus in a deal worth €112million.

“I do not give value to any statement from anyone,” Lopetegui told reporters on Friday. “I am happy because Luka has won, he is a player of ours and he had merit to win it.

“Luka combines individual quality and the collective component that he has in the game and in the way to interpret his role.

“I love it, but I like collective awards more than individual ones.”

Coaches and journalists voted for the prize, with Modric easily beating out Salah and Ronaldo to collect the honour – he earned 313 points in the voting process compared to 223 for Ronaldo and Salah’s 134.

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was fifth in the voting, behind Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann, while other players in the top 10 included Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Chelsea winger Eden Hazard.

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