Dejan Lovren Slammed by Croatia Boss Ante Cacic over Hungary Warm-Up

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2016

Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Croatia national team manager Ante Cacic has criticised Liverpool star Dejan Lovren for his behaviour during the 1-1 draw against Hungary on Saturday, after the centre-back returned to the substitutes' bench early when asked to warm up.

Speaking to Sportske Novosti (h/t Goal's Jamie Dunn), Cacic made it clear Lovren's behaviour wouldn't do him any favours with an eye on the upcoming UEFA Euro 2016 tournament:

He did not refuse to get on the pitch... because no one invited him to come on. But do you think it is up to Lovren or any other player to decide how long will he warm up? Or is it [the] coach's decision?

Also, I didn't specifically tell him to warm up, I told all the benched players because it was cold in Budapest. So all of them went to warm up.

I will not tolerate such behaviour because no one is more important than the team. Lovren made [a] step backward, away from our squad.

We didn't talk after the match, we will see what is going to happen, but I will not tolerate such acts and he made [a] wrong move.

The former Southampton man is in the middle of a solid season for the Reds, a welcome sight after his first year at Anfield was filled with disappointments. Lovren's move to the club in the summer of 2014 came with plenty of hype and sky-high expectations, but he was unable to establish himself as the dominant defensive force fans were hoping for.

But under new manager Jurgen Klopp, the 26-year-old has looked reinvigorated, and according to Bleacher Report's Jack Lusby, no player has improved more during the 2015-16 campaign than Lovren:

Where Lovren once spread fear through the Liverpool support for all the wrong reasons, he now serves as something of a calming influence at the back alongside [Mamadou] Sakho; though it is questionable whether he has justified his £20 million price tag at this stage, Lovren has made great strides to restoring his reputation at Anfield.

His improved form with Liverpool was great news for Croatia, who didn't play their best during the qualifying stages for Euro 2016 and barely beat Norway to second place in Group H. Their ageing defence, which features the likes of Vedran Corluka and Darijo Srna, has looked more than suspect in the last few months.

Croatian players (L to R) Mario Manduki?, Gordon Schildenfeld, goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, Vedran ?orluka, ime Vrsaljko and Marcelo Brozovi? observe a minute of silence for the victims of the Brussels attack ahead the friendly football match Hungary v Croat

Lovren was expected to play a key role during Euro 2016, guiding the team's defence, but Cacic makes it sound as if he might struggle to break into the squad at his point.

The defender also seems to have taken a break from social media, as Jonny Boyle of Talking Baws noticed he has deleted both his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

FIFpro's Andrew Orsatti wondered where his accounts had gone:

According to Boyle, his Facebook account is still active.

It's not the first time Lovren has deleted his Instagram account―last year, he did the same thing after fans buried him in abuse following a poor showing against West Ham United, per the Daily Mirror's Aaron Flanagan.

It's unclear what prompted him to remove his accounts this time, although some Southampton fans are taking credit on social media.