Valencia defender Jeremy Mathieu has backtracked on comments which suggested he was looking to leave the club despite having signed a new contract just three months ago.
Mathieu had appeared set to leave the Mestalla early in the summer, with Barcelona reportedly interested in signing the versatile France international, but in June he extended his contract until 2017.
That appeared to end all hope of a move, until a press conference on Tuesday when the former Toulouse player appeared to send an ultimatum to new Los Che coach Miroslav Djukic.
"I do not close the door on an exit from the club," Mathieu said. "It depends on the coming games, if I am in the coach’s plans. I am a little bit angry but the season is long and at the moment I am waiting on my opportunity to play."
The comments were even more surprising, given that Mathieu was suspended for Valencia’s opening game of the season last Sunday, when Adil Rami and Ricardo Costa were Djukic’s central defensive pairing.
With Aly Cissokho having moved to Liverpool on loan, youngster Bernat played at left-back against Malaga. Mathieu’s best chance of getting into the first team appears to be on the flank, where he spent most of his career until last season, however even that would not make him happy, the 29-year-old suggested.
"I see myself as a centre-back," he said. "I do not want to play full-back, I feel good, assured, in the centre of the defence."
The comments -- understandably -- caused a sensation around Valencia, which may have led Mathieu to make an appearance on the club’s TV channel later on Tuesday to ‘clarify’ what he had meant.
"I apologise to everyone, to the fans, and also to my team-mates, the coach and the president," Mathieu said. "At no moment did I have a bad intention. I said some bad things, but I do not think that way. I was not trying to throw a bomb into the dressing-room. I have respect for everyone, and I feel very good at Valencia."
In a busy day at Mestalla, club president Amadeo Salvo admitted that his club -- which is about €400 million in debt -- had used third party investors the Doyen Group to fund half of the €7.5 million fee being paid for Colombian striker Dorlan Pabon.
"Pabon is 25 -- on the limit for investment funds, but he is a forward with a future," Salvo said. "If they have decided to invest it is because they also believe that."
Pabon’s move has yet to be finalised, with Mexican club Monterey holding up the deal due to a disagreement over the final figure of the player’s release clause. Salvo said he was confident Valencia had done everything by the book, but hoped an official ruling would not be required.
"We will take it to FIFA if necessary," he said. "They will show we are right. Although that would be inconvenient as it could take three weeks."
Superdeporte also reported on Wednesday that Arsenal representatives had met with Valencia figures to discuss a deal for Vicente Guaita. The local paper said a move was very unlikely as the two club's valuations of the goalkeeper [who has a €20 million release clause] are very far apart.