Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren returned to Merseyside this week following an impressive summer at the World Cup with Croatia.
The 29-year-old previously struggled for consistency at Liverpool but formed a strong defensive partnership with Virgil van Dijk last season.
Lovren described himself as one of the best defenders in the world after Croatia beat England in the World Cup semi-final.
"From my point of view, people were saying I had a difficult season but I don't agree with that," said the former Southampton man.
"I showed that I took Liverpool to the Champions League final and now with my national team we are in the final.
"I think people should recognise that I'm one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense I will say."
We've now learned that Lovren was actually playing with an injury during the World Cup.
Lovren gives worrying update
Liverpool's face West Ham in their opening Premier League fixture on Sunday and Jurgen Klopp is dealing with a defensive crisis.
Lovren and Ragnar Klavan have both been ruled out, while Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are both considered doubtful.
Academy player Nat Phillips has played alongside Van Dijk in pre-season and could make his competitive Liverpool debut against West Ham.
As per Goal, Lovren told Sportske novosti on his fitness issues: “I cannot train at all because of stomach muscle issues. I am suffering a lot of pain and will see a specialist doctor in the Netherlands.
“When did I start to feel it? I felt it during the World Cup. I played with pain and those three games killed me. But who wouldn't play for Croatia at such a big tournament!
“After the World Cup finished, the pain increased. I can't even sit in my car without feeling it and to get out of the car hurts like hell!
“I'd always grit my teeth and play for Croatia, but now I am paying the price. But no price is too high for what we achieved in Russia.”
When quizzed on Liverpool’s reaction to his injury problem, Lovren said: “Of course, they are not happy.
“I haven’t trained since I returned from holiday. I can't.
“I'll reassess things after seeing the doctor in Netherlands. I have to deal with that for now and believe it will be OK.
“I hoped it would pass during my holiday, but it didn't. As I went for a swim, it hurt. I couldn't even rest normally.”
Klopp may not be happy with Lovren but there was no chance he would've sat out Croatia's knockout games in Russia.News Now - Sport News