Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren will not feature during this summer's European Championship finals in France after being omitted from a 27-man provisional Croatia squad for the tournament. The decision comes after a very public disagreement between the 26-year-old and manager Ante Cacic that flared up during the last international break following a 1-1 draw against Hungary.
Lovren was angered after being benched as a substitute for that friendly at the Groupama Arena in Budapest and was later accused of not warming up properly when requested. The former Southampton defender dismissed the claims in an interview with Zagreb-based sports daily Sportske Novosti and said that he was told he would play the second-half before defiantly declaring that he would not go to Euro 2016 unless he regained a place in the starting XI.
But the ultimatum appeared to have immediately backfired, with Cacic stating that there was "no place for ultimatums" in the Croatian dressing room and that the squad came first before any individual. The issue had looked to be resolved last month after reconciliatory talks were said to have taken place in a "sincere, spontaneous and open atmosphere", yet clearly the relationship has yet to sufficiently heal.
"I haven't closed the door on Lovren for good," Cacic was quoted as saying by BBC Sport after he revealed his provisional squad. "He can return one day if he realises that he has to be a team player. When it dawns on him that he can't look down on his team-mates, the staff and the coach, he will perhaps find a way to get back in."
Croatia lost just once en route to qualifying for the Euros behind Italy and have been placed in Group D alongside reigning champions Spain, the Czech Republic and Turkey. They begin their campaign against the latter at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday 12 June before moving on to Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux.
Their rather youthful squad is headlined by Real Madrid midfielders Luka Modric and Mateo Kovavic as well as Barcelona counterparts Ivan Rakitic and Alen Halilovic. Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric, who spent the final four months of the season on loan with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, features alongside the experienced Mario Mandzukic in attack. Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Vedran Corluka and long-serving captain Darijo Srna are also included.