Xhaka, Ronaldo, Neymar: 7 times players publicly criticised their own teammates

Xhaka, Ronaldo, Neymar: 7 times players publicly criticised their own teammates

Arsenal suffered a major blow to their Champions League qualification hopes when they lost 2-0 to Newcastle on Monday night – and Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka didn’t hold back when it came to the performance of his teammates in his post-match interview.

Victory against the Magpies was a must for Arsenal as they sought to keep up the pressure on local rivals Tottenham in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League.

However, far from rising to the occasion, Mikel Arteta’s men were thoroughly outplayed at St. James’ Park. A Ben White own goal, followed by a second from Bruno Guimarães gave the hosts a well-deserved three points.

Arsenal’s players were visibly distraught at the final whistle – with the club now relying on basement dwellers Norwich to pull off an unlikely upset against Spurs on the final day if they are to secure Champions League football next term.

“It’s difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch,” Xhaka admitted to Sky Sports following the match.

“I can’t explain to you why. We didn’t do what the game plan was, not listening to the coach. What happened was a disaster performance. You don’t deserve to play Champions League or even Europa League. It’s very hard to take it at the moment.

“I don’t know why we’re not doing what the coach is asking of us. If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter your age. If you’re nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home. You need people to have the balls to come here and play.”

Pretty damning stuff from the Swiss international, who was in no mood to spare the feelings of his colleagues after such a disappointing evening.

Granit Xhaka
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 01: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during the Pre Season Friendly between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on August 1, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Xhaka isn’t the first big name to publicly air their frustration towards their teammates, though.

Over the years, a number of well-known stars have vented their displeasure with those around them, typically using the media to get their point across in no uncertain terms.

Following Xhaka’s rant, we’ve decided to take a look back at seven other examples where senior players have taken a public swipe at their underperforming colleagues.

Seven times footballers publicly criticised their own teammates following Xhaka’s Arsenal outburst

William Gallas – Arsenal, 2008

Sadly for long-suffering Arsenal fans, Xhaka’s scathing interview is nothing new.

Back in 2008, then club captain Gallas gave a brutal assessment of the Gunners’ title chances when he claimed they lacked bravery following a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.

“We are not brave enough in battle. I think we need to be soldiers,” Gallas told BBC Sport. “To be champions, you have to play big matches every weekend and fight.”

Gallas at Arsenal
LONDON – APRIL 02: William Gallas of Arsenal gestures during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on April 2, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

In a scarily accurate prediction of the club’s future, he continued: “We are coming up against teams who are not scared to play football against us, who are not scared to take us on at our place, and this is becoming dangerous for Arsenal.”

We’re guessing Gallas probably wasn’t the most popular man in the dressing room for a while afterwards, though.

Rafa Marquez – New York Red Bulls, 2011

Having enjoyed a decorated seven-year stint at Barcelona – where he won the Champions League twice – former Mexico captain Marquez made the switch to the MLS in 2010. By the midway point of his second season in the States, it was clear that he wasn’t impressed by the overall strength of the New York Red Bulls side he had joined.

In the aftermath of a September 2011 3-1 home defeat to Real Salt Lake, Marquez gave an interview where he threw the team’s entire backline – excluding himself – under the bus.

“I think this is a team game and unfortunately there isn’t an equal level between my teammates and I,” insisted Marquez, per ESPN.

“I’m not paying attention to that. I’m actually focusing on my game… I’m focusing on performing at my highest performance, at the highest level. That doesn’t mean the whole back line can perform at the same level, that’s the problem.”

Rafa Marquez, NY Red Bulls
HARRISON, NJ – SEPTEMBER 15:Rafa Marquez #4 of the New York Red Bulls reacts during the game against the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena on September 15, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. Red Bulls defeated the Crew 3-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

Harsh stuff from Marquez to say the least, but he wasn’t done there.

Minutes later, while speaking to the Mexican press, he reportedly slammed the ability of his centre-back partner, Tim Ream, declaring it ‘infantile’.

“Tim is still a young player with a lot to learn. He still has quite a lot to learn, and well, he has committed errors that are very infantile and cost us goals,” insisted Marquez.

Top mentoring work there, Rafa!

Neymar – Paris Saint-Germain, 2020

When you’re a global superstar on the level of Neymar, winning multiple trophies each season is more of an expectation than an achievement, particularly while playing for the top side in all of French football.

Naturally, then, the talented Brazilian forward was not at all happy when his PSG side lost out to Rennes in the final of the 2020 Coupe de France.

After suffering heartache in both the Champions League and the French League Cup in 2019/20, the defeat meant that PSG finished the season with only the Ligue 1 title to their credit.

A disappointed Neymar took aim at a number of the younger players in the PSG squad following their dismal performance in the final.

Neymar disappointed after defeat
LISBON, PORTUGAL – AUGUST 23: Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 23, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

We need to be more like men in the dressing room, we must be more united,” Neymar explained after the match, per joe.co.uk

“I see a lot of young players who are, not lost exactly, but they lack more ear than mouth.

“They must listen more than they talk. Sometimes a more experienced guy speaks, and they answer back. The coach himself speaks, and they retort. This is not how a team goes far.

“We are more experienced, so they must respect us a bit more, listen a bit more. I had to do the same when I was starting out.”

Some two years later, reports frequently emerge suggesting that the PSG dressing room is still struggling for the unity that Neymar asked for.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United, 2022

Continuing a theme, United’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner has had his own struggles with young talent this season.

Back in January, after a run of consistent poor form, Ronaldo went public with his frustration over a number of young players at Old Trafford failing to take advice on board.

The mature players, the older players can always help the young players,” Ronaldo told Premier League Productions, per the Manchester Evening News.

“But, I can give you an example, if I give you advice, even if you are younger than me and if you don’t implant that in your daily life it will be difficult.

Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 06: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United shows his frustration during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on November 06, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“You can speak all day with that person. If he’s not coming from inside of you it’s impossible. I remember when I was 18, 19, 20, some old players speak with me and I put that as, ‘Cristiano, you know you have to improve. They know more than you, they are more experienced than you’. They passed through many bad moments.

“But the other people (youngsters), they don’t accept that if you criticise them. I don’t say this in relation to our players but in general. I have kids, I know. Sometimes when you’re a little bit harder, they do the opposite, you have to find the right balance to speak with them.

“But in my opinion, the main point is it should come from inside you. You should be proud of yourself, look in the mirror and say, listen, I gave everything. And I think all of us should do that. Because it’s a new year, we change the page, we have many things to win, we have to believe on that, if not it will be a nightmare.”

Now officially confirmed to finish no higher than sixth in the Premier League this season, Ronaldo’s “nightmare” prediction was pretty much spot on.

READ MORE: Premier League Final Day: Predictions, Scenarios and More

Roy Keane – Man Utd, 2005

While Ronaldo’s comments were certainly designed to be cutting, they were nothing compared to Roy Keane’s infamous 2005 rant on MUTV, with the Irishman’s words ultimately leading to his departure from the club.

His tirade following a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough was so bad that Sir Alex Ferguson demanded that it never be broadcast, and even tried to every copy of the interview in existence.

“It is poor defending. Just because you are paid £120,000 a week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham you think you are a superstar,” Keane said of Rio Ferdinand’s performance – and few other players fared much better.

Roy Keane tussles with Tim Cahill
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 13 : Tim Cahill of Everton in action with Roy Keane of Man Utd during the Barclays Premiership match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on August 13, 2005 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Kieran Richardson was branded “lazy”, while John O’ Shea was criticised for not “busting a gut to get back”.

Strong questions were also raised about Darren Fletcher and Alan Smith’s claims for a place in the side.

Similar to Ronaldo, Keane went on slam the young players within the Red Devils’ system.

“When they sign the contracts, they think they have made it. They owe it to the manager, the staff and the fans. They think they have made it. They haven’t,” raged Keane.

Roy Keane in his final year at Man Utd
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 19: A portrait of Roy Keane of Manchester United during the FA Barclays Premiership match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on March 19, 2005 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

“The younger players have been let down by some of the more experienced ones – they are not leading. There is a shortage of characters.”

“It seems to be in this club you have to play badly to be rewarded. Maybe that is what I should do when I come back – play badly.”

The fiery outburst landed Keane a £5,000 fine. He never pulled on a United shirt again.

Roy Keane blasts Man Utd (Via the Football Terrace)

Diego Costa – Chelsea, 2015

So upset was Brazilian striker Costa with the defensive effort of his Chelsea colleagues during a December 2015 match at Leicester that he openly gestured at them to stop sleeping.

In incredible scenes after Jamie Vardy had given the Foxes the lead, Costa made his point to the Blues’ backline by resting his head on his own hands in a mocking fashion.

There was no mistaking Costa’s brutal message – which was picked up by television cameras and broadcast live around the world.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – LA Galaxy, 2018

As savage as Costa’s actions were, at least he only made his point the once.

The ever-controversial Ibrahimovic, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Zlatan spent two seasons with MLS side LA Galaxy before returning to Europe with AC Milan in 2020.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiz: How much do you know about the legendary striker?

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born in which city?

Throughout his time in North America, Ibrahimovic made no secret of his belief that he was the best player in the league by some distance – and would often get frustrated that his teammates weren’t operating at the level he wanted them to.

In fact, according to former San Jose Earthquakes defender Florian Jungwirth, the veteran Swede once spent an entire game vocally blasting his colleagues.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates at La Galaxy
CARSON, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 31: Zlatan Ibrahimovic #9 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his second goal against the Portland Timbers during the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 31, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

“It was in 2018 when we played at Stanford against Zlatan first time – and he was like really insulting all his teammates,” Jungwirth revealed in a Twitter post.

“For 90 minutes – he was yelling at everyone. It was just funny.

“Everyone was so scared of him and I was just laughing because everyone was like a little kid. They were like, ‘Daddy, can I get something from you?’

Why are we not surprised, Zlatan?

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