Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has launched a passionate defence of Arsenal star Mesut Ozil following the aftermath of his decision to quit the Germany national team.
Ozil posed for a photograph with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan alongside Manchester City midfielder and Everton striker Cenk Tosun.
The Arsenal man was criticised in the German media and faced a further backlash after the national team bowed out of the 2018 World Cup in the group stages.
The playmaker of Turkish origin decided to retire from the national team soon after, citing racism, being unfairly scapegoated and a lack of support from the German Football Federation as part of his reasoning.
Klopp has come out and backed Ozil who he feels has been unfairly singled out and victimised.
“This is a classic example of absolute misinformation and, of course, complete nonsense,” Klopp told sport1.
“This photo was used – first by Erdogan, then by many other people.
“In politics, little things have always been blown up and big things pushed away in order to continue. Normally intelligent people tend to hold back because it is not easy to say the right thing. I would count myself too. All those who have no idea are very loud in these conversations.
“I know Ilkay Gündogan very well, I know Emre Can and Nuri Sahin very well. I do not know Mesut so well, but I would like to take him home. I do not doubt these guys at least about their loyalty to our homeland. The difference is that they just have one more thing. Where is the problem? That’s beautiful. Cultural diversity, we all thought it was really cool around the 2006 World Cup. I saw these fantastic commercials where the parents of Gerald Asamoah and Mario Gomez had a barbecue party together. ‘We all sighed for how great that works. And now two guys are seduced by politically quite intelligent people to have a photo, and then have relatively few opportunities to say what they want 100% right. ‘That’s why I find this discussion hypocritical. Bad things happened because people were not informed properly. Even the media should not create a buzz around something like this every day. Just cool off and see the people behind it.”
Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller have meanwhile publically dismissed Ozil’s claims.
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness went one step further and has been making stinging attacks throughout the summer.
“I am glad that this scare is now over. He had been playing s— for years,” Hoeness told Sport Bild after Ozil quit the national team.
“He last won a tackle before the 2014 World Cup. And now he and his s—– performance hide beyond this picture.”
Ozil is expected to feature for Arsenal against West Ham on Saturday 25 August.