Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovač penned a column on Croatia’s fantastic World Cup run for Frankfurter Allgemeine and just before the text dips behind the paywall, this little nugget emerges:
Center-back Lovren was also doing his thing really well, after Sterling had run away from him a few times in the beginning. For me, Lovren is playing at this World Cup overall on the same level that we know from Jerome Boateng...
Since there has already been speculation that Kovač wants another, flexible defender at Bayern Munich, such a statement about Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren obviously has potential to turn the rumor mill for folks in the media.
A crazy twist, however, probably has ignited more controversy beyond what anyone might have thought a column on Croatia could. When a Twitter account extracted the quote from the original story, Mats Hummels, the sensational Bayern defender, commented on the tweet suggesting he had a reply that he could not share in public:
Oh man there is such a good answer to this i really can’t post https://t.co/9g8NEBF6uv— Mats Hummels (@matshummels) July 14, 2018
It is hard to discern exactly what Hummels meant in his tweet — shade against Lovren? an inside joke? — but in typical social media fashion, no one was about to wait for Hummels to explain. Something of a social media storm erupted, and Twitter accounts fired off retorts to Hummels until he he eventually responded to one particularly barbed reply as follows:
It would not be against Dejan Lovren at all, totally different direction— Mats Hummels (@matshummels) July 14, 2018
He plays a great World Cup. I would be the last not to acknowledge that! https://t.co/IAst0pbPEp
A positive opinion after all, then — but the mystery of Hummels’s first post remains.
Surely, Kovač did not expect ANY of this to come down from a simple column written for a Frankfurt outlet. Given the affable and communicative nature of Hummels on Twitter, this is perhaps much ado about nothing. Hummels routinely interacts with soccer fans via social media, so hopefully this doesn’t discourage him from being as open — and typically funny — as he has been in the past.