Marseille's Lucas Silva: I was never kicked off the bus
On-loan Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Silva has dismissed allegations that he was kicked off the Marseille team bus in the wake of turning down the chance to leave the club.
Silva, 22, joined Marseille in a season-long loan deal in August but he has made only nine starts in the league since then.
Belgian side Anderlecht wanted to end the central midfielder's stay in France but the Brazilian apparently rejected the move.
He has since been removed from the club's squad to play Athletic Bilbao in the last 32 of the Europa League next week amid interest from several teams in his homeland.
L'Equipe reported that Silva had been told to get off the bus before they left for a match against Montpellier on Feb. 2, the day after the European transfer window closed but before the deadline for registering players in Brazil.
The player published a statement on his Facebook account in the early hours of Thursday morning to object to that story and to reaffirm his commitment to Marseille.
"During the last day of the winter transfer window, I took my place on the team bus with my teammates," Silva wrote.
"Because of a possible transfer being negotiated, I was led to move in accordance with the transaction taking place. In this way, the Marseille directors advised me to stay in Marseille and not to travel with the team.
"I was never kicked off the bus as some media outlets announced.
"There were certainly teams in Brazil interested in signing me and I thank them. However it's not in Real Madrid's interest or mine to return to Brazil at the moment. I would like to thank Real Madrid for their support during this process.
"I'll take this occasion to reaffirm that I will stay at Marseille until end of my contract with the club.
"I've decided to stay in Marseille because I believe I should go to the end of the commitments that I've made. I've always taken up challenges and I always take them on with courage."
On Wednesday, Marseille manager Michel had suggested that the interest of Brazilian clubs, whose transfer window closes in March, was the reason why Silva had not been included for the Europa League.
"I'm going to explain my point of view," Michel told a news conference. "Lucas had an offer that wasn't finalised. So he stayed.
"If he was removed from the list for the Europa League, it's because there are still negotiations ongoing with the Brazilian market."
The former Cruzeiro player, who turns 23 next week, joined Real Madrid in January 2015 in a deal thought to be worth €14 million.