Conor McGregor hailed Russia president Vladimir Putin as “one of the greatest leaders of our time” after the UFC star was a guest at the World Cup final.
McGregor was invited to the Moscow showpiece by Putin as France lifted the trophy for a second time thanks to a 4-2 win over Croatia on Sunday.
And the Irish fighter used Instagram to thank Putin following the conclusion of the tournament in Russia.
“Today I was invited to the World Cup final as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin,” McGregor wrote after posting a photo alongside Putin.
“This man is one of the greatest leaders of our time and I was honored to attend such a landmark event alongside him.
“Today was an honor for me Mr. Putin. Thank you and congratulations on an amazing World Cup.”
Earlier, McGregor – who is reportedly nearing a return to the octagon – wrote: “Enjoying the World Cup final in Russia. A truly amazing spectacle.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp endorsed Dejan Lovren’s assessment of himself as one of the world’s top defenders despite joking it was hardly an objective opinion.
Croatia mainstay Lovren raised eyebrows during the week when he claimed he deserves to be considered among the game’s finest in his position.
The 29-year-old pointed to his parts in Liverpool’s qualification for the Champions League final and Croatia’s run to the World Cup decider as evidence of his ability.
Klopp concurred with the assessment, although he admitted it was perhaps not Lovren’s call to make.
“Yes. It would be better if somebody else would say that and not Dejan! But actually he’s right,” Klopp told reporters.
“People don’t think about that, but if you go into detail it’s not a big surprise that [Croatia] are where they are. They don’t have world class full-backs, but in the end they don’t concede.
“They are offensive in the midfield with [Ivan] Rakitic, [Marcelo] Brozovic, [Luka] Modric, so somebody needs to fix all that. Dejan is a big part of that.
“He was for us in the Champions League final, three years ago he was in the Europa League final. Yes, he didn’t win that. In the Champions League final, I didn’t see two better centre-halves than him – only more ruthless. That’s the thing.
“For me it’s no surprise. He played a really good World Cup, but to do it consistently is more important. We will work together for a long time, so I will have the opportunity to help him. Next time I will say it.”
Klopp feels the intensity of training in the last few days meant #LFC were not able to muster a performance worthy of a victory in today’s goalless draw.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 14, 2018
Meanwhile, Klopp confirmed new signing Xherdan Shaqiri will join his team-mates on the upcoming tour of the United States, which includes International Champions Cup matches against Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Talented young Wales winger Harry Wilson has been ruled out of the trip as he nears an expected loan move to Derby County.
Ligue 1 side Lille have announced the signing of former France forward Loic Remy.
The 31-year-old joins from Las Palmas on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee, leaving the LaLiga outfit after a single season.
Former Chelsea forward Remy returns to Ligue 1 for the first time since 2013, when he left Marseille for Queens Park Rangers.
“Honestly, I do not hide it that I really enjoy returning to France, in a league that I missed and sign for Lille, a really big French club, which has a strong history in Ligue 1,” Remy said.
“I’m really happy and impatient to start working in these very good conditions at the Domaine de Luchin. I am really here to help the team.”
Remy, who played for France at the 2014 World Cup, scored five LaLiga goals for Las Palmas and spent part of the 2017-18 season on loan at Getafe.
FIFA has announced that there have been no positive doping tests during the World Cup, while also confirming that disciplinary proceedings have started against England for “possible discriminatory” chanting.
Since January, a total of 2,037 tests have been conducted, with every participating player at Russia 2018 tested in unannounced controls before the competition, as well as undergoing further tests during the tournament.
On average, every player from the four remaining teams – France, Croatia, England and Belgium – has been tested four times since January, with some tested up to eight times.
Meanwhile, chants by England fans during their World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia on Wednesday are being investigated by the governing body.
A statement from FIFA read: “We can confirm that a report has been filed through the anti-discrimination monitoring system in relation to chants of a possible discriminatory nature by English fans at yesterday’s match.
“Subsequently, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Football Association.”
Paul Pogba gave an impassioned response to his critics after helping France into the World Cup final.
Pogba put in his latest assured display of a quietly impressive tournament at Russia 2018 as Samuel Umtiti’s header downed Belgium 1-0 in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old was the world’s most expensive player when he rejoined Manchester United from Juventus in 2016 but his performances at Old Trafford have often polarised opinion.
As the biggest game of his decorated career awaits, Pogba is willing to take the barbs in his stride so long as his desire to compete and love for the game is not up for debate.
“I don’t want to prove nothing to nobody,” he said. “I came from – I wouldn’t exactly say nothing – [but] obviously I had no trophies.
“I could do one thing and it was to play football. It was my love, my first love. Obviously I live for football. I play for football.
“I get criticised again and again but everything is fine. We are winning. It’s always nice to win and it is nice to hear nice things about the team, about yourself and everything.”
Pogba continued: “I know that sometimes you are doing good, sometimes you are doing bad, but that’s how you grow.
“I can improve and get better and better. I wouldn’t say that I’m young but I’m not old, yet, and we are going through nice things and want to finish it.”
As a member of the France squad that suffered heartache on home soil in the final of Euro 2016, Pogba knows completing such a historic task is no formality.
“It’s not done yet. The semi-final was one game,” he added, with Les Bleus to face Croatia in Sunday’s final after Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time goal secured a 2-1 victory over England on Wednesday.
“We are going through to the final of a World Cup. It’s a dream for everybody. But you have to realise a dream.
“We started our dream and now we need to finish it. We are not done yet.”
Paul Pogba has urged France not to let an opportunity to win the World Cup pass as Les Bleus booked their place in Sunday’s showpiece with a 1-0 win over Belgium.
Pogba, 25, was instrumental in the semi-final win in St Petersburg, as Samuel Umtiti’s goal in the 51st minute put the 1998 champions in the World Cup final against the winner of Croatia and England.
The Manchester United midfielder was part of the France squad that lost 1-0 in extra time to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final, and Pogba hopes they can now go one better on Sunday.
“It’s beautiful, it’s good, but there’s still a step,” he told L’Equipe.
“Today I’m happy but it’s not like the Euros. We had the chance to win the final of the Euros, but we missed a wonderful thing and we must not let this chance pass.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) July 10, 2018
“You have to focus. We savour [the win] a little, but we must now focus on the final. We were there [in 2016], we were close to winning the title and we missed.
“It makes me happy that people are happy, but I hope to make them even happier on the evening of the 15th of July.”
Pogba later took to social media to dedicate France’s win over Belgium to the football team that was rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) July 10, 2018