Leonardo defends Ibra over 'stamp' row
Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has leapt to the defence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the Swede was accused of stamping on Lyon's Dejan Lovren last weekend.
Lovren was left with a head wound after clashing with Ibrahimovic, whose left foot was clearly shown in TV replays coming down on the Croatian centre-back's head and left hand in Sunday's Ligue 1 encounter, which PSG won 1-0.
The PSG striker's intentions were far less evident, though that did not prevent OL president Jean-Michel Aulas telling reporters at the Parc des Princes he felt Ibrahimovic had made contact intentionally.
"He should stop talking about PSG!" Leonardo, 43, responded in an interview with L'Equipe. "The other day he was saying: 'I'd advise them to do this, I'd advise them to do that.' Now he's talking about the intentions of one of our players. He should leave Zlatan alone! It's too easy to point the finger at him."
Following Lyon's defeat, in which Ibrahimovic contributed to PSG's match-winning goal shortly after his clash with Lovren, Aulas suggested the French Football League (LFP) should look into the incident. Radio station RTL is reporting the authority's Disciplinary Commission will do so, though confirmation of that will likely only be made public on Thursday.
Rather than seeking to right a potential injustice, Leonardo, whose side overtook OL at the top of the Ligue 1 table, believes Aulas had other motives for his outburst.
"All he wants is to create a diversion to take attention away from his team's bad result," Leonardo said. "We dominated Lyon, especially in the second half - that's the reality. Aulas, it seems, just wants to justify the defeat. But do you know what his words suggest to me? An inferiority complex."
Meanwhile, Bernard Lacombe, a former Lyon player and special advisor to Aulas, has backed up his president's claim that Ibrahimovic meant to hurt Lovren.
"I didn't really see the incident during the game," he said. "I've seen it [on Monday] many times. I honestly think he did it on purpose. He did nothing to hold himself back.
"I find it hard to believe that a guy who sees the England goalkeeper off his line from 40 metres away can't see a player who's on the ground 30 centimetres from him. He did everything to 'do' Dejan."