France left-back Layvin Kurzawa has insisted his derogatory comments about France coach Didier Deschamps were just a “youthful mistake.”
Kurzawa was the victim of an alleged blackmail attempt a few months ago when it emerged he had been recorded saying negative things about Deschamps at a bar in Paris. Four men have been arrested and charged.
The recording ultimately did not surface, but Kurzawa does not expect it to be the last mistake he ever makes.
“As far as I am concerned, everybody makes mistakes,” Kurzawa told TF1’s Telefoot. “In fact, I am sure I will do again. It was a youthful mistake.
“The coach? We have spoken about it. He was aware of it before. I do not want to dwell on that, though, it is in the past now. I am in the team and everything is fine with the coach. My relationship with him is very good. He was not bothered by it — it was more the people around me.”
Deschamps himself also spoke with Telefoot over the weekend and the France coach played down the Kurzawa episode and stressed the trusting bond that he has formed with his players.
“It is not a big deal,” said the 49-year-old, who recently signed a contract extension until 2020. “Afterwards, he said a lot of things. I try to defend my players. I have a trusting relationship with them.
“We must not forget that they are human beings. If they were robots, they would not move, would not say anything and would not do anything. However, we should note that in the modern football media environment, there is a lot of aggression and violent words from time to time.”
Deschamps emphasised the human error aspect of Kurzawa’s misbehaviour and pointed the finger of blame largely towards the French football press. However, he also pointed out that understanding the PSG man is different from forgiving him.
“As Layvin said, he is a human being,” Deschamps said. “He has parents, a family and these people bear the brunt of it, so sometimes a little kindness and empathy is needed. That does not stop the critics though.
“Sporting critics, being told he cannot cross properly and that he could be more focused is one thing. Harsh words is another. I can assure you that those have no place in the sporting environment.”
“This is not me forgiving him, I am understanding him. I am trying to understand everything. Empathy is necessary. I must be able to put myself in their place.
“When something does not seem normal to me, I tell them. They have the right to make mistakes. After that, it is up to them to pay attention — particularly to what they are saying.”
France face Germany in a friendly in Cologne on Tuesday to round off 2017, having recently qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Russia, and the Paris Saint-Germain defender is keen to keep up his run of good form after scoring a hat trick against Anderlecht earlier this month.
Kurzawa has struggled to get back to his attacking best since recovering from season-ending surgery last campaign. And the 25-year-old acknowledged that he had to isolate himself from what was being said and focus on his football.
“I removed myself,” Kurzawa. “I tried to cocoon myself. I prefer to work and do everything I can to get back to my best.
“When I have silenced the critics and people stop speaking about me regarding things outside of football, then I will respond to some questions.
“I do not need to hear ‘he was rubbish’ and ‘he does not know how to cross.’ I know what my qualities are and I know what I need to work on. In any case, I should be working on everything. As far as I am concerned, even when you are at 100 percent, there are still things to work on.”
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.