Thursday, September 19, 2019

Sule backs Can after Champions League heartache

SoccerNews in English Premier League 4 Sep 2019

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Niklas Sule has backed Germany team-mate Emre Can to bounce back following his surprise omission from Juventus’ Champions League squad.

Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri criticised a transfer policy that left him with a bloated squad during the close season, and Can and Mario Mandzukic were the odd men out when the Serie A champions named their party for Europe’s premier club competition on Tuesday.

Can told reporters he was “extremely shocked” by the decision and claimed he was given assurances to the contrary by Sarri, which persuaded him against seeking a transfer away from Turin.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Germany’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Netherlands in Hamburg, Bayern Munich defender Sule stated he expects the former Liverpool midfielder’s focus to be unwavering.

“Emre is a guy you don’t really have to build up,” he said. “He is a consistently positive boy.

“I’ve known him since the under-13s, where we played together for Eintracht Frankfurt. 

“I’m not involved in this topic and don’t know what the coach at Juventus was thinking. But I think Emre knows that well.

“He won’t let it get to him and he’s an outstanding player – that’s without question.

“You can’t always influence everything in football. There are decisions, there are other cases.

“We are not in an individual sport here. In golf you can always decide for yourself what you want to do. We are dependent on the coach.

“If he thinks that’s the case, then you have to accept that. Nevertheless, I think [Can] won’t let it get to him and is fully focused here on the two games.”

Sule is relishing meeting one of his most celebrated contemporaries at Volksparkstadion on Friday.

Liverpool and Netherlands centre-back Virgil van Dijk was named UEFA Player of the Year last week and a fellow member of the defenders’ union is certainly an admirer of the 28-year-old’s qualities at both ends of the field.

“I’ve played him a few times now. He has an incredible physical presence,” Sule said.

“I always had to cover him in the national team at set-pieces. That’s when I realised what a guy he is. I’m not exactly skinny either!

“I can see a lot from his offensive headers. He does that really well. He also scored an important goal for Liverpool against us at Bayern.

“We definitely have to deal with how we defend that. He played an outstanding season.

“He is also rightly in contention [for the Ballon d’Or]. That’s also nice for a defender, to see that a defensive player could win it.”

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