Nikola Kalinic has admitted he does not deserve his World Cup runners-up medal, having been sent home from the tournament after Croatia’s opening game.
The Milan striker refused to come on as a substitute in Croatia’s 2-0 win over Nigeria, citing fitness issues, but was then kicked out of the squad by head coach Zlatko Dalic.
Kalinic had also missed out on the pre-tournament warm-up game with Brazil and was forced to sit out training due to back spasms. Dalic decided to send him home following the Nigeria victory, claiming that he needed players who were “fit and ready to play.”
Despite not playing even a minute of football at the World Cup, Kalinic’s international team-mates and coaching staff decided to award Kalinic with a silver medal following the World Cup final defeat to France.
However, the 30-year-old believes he is not entitled to share in the country’s achievement, turning down the offer from his team-mates.
“Thanks for the medals, but I did not play in Russia,” Kalinic told Sportske Novosti.
Kalinic’s absence from the Croatia squad left them with just one designated striker for the remainder of the competition, with Mario Mandzukic rising to the challenge of being the sole option up front, scoring three times in six appearances, including a goal in the final.
After being kicked out of Croatia’s World Cup squad, Kalinic took some time off before returning to training with Milan, but may not play for the Rossoneri in the upcoming season following his €25 million transfer.
Kalinic officially transferred to Milan this summer following a loan spell from Fiorentina last season, scoring six goals in 31 Serie A games in 2017-18. However, he has been heavily linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, where he would replace Fernando Torres in attack and provide competition for Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa.
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