Thursday Kickoff: Pique apologizes for clash with police; Wenger clarifies Ozil injury; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Pique apologizes for clash with police; Wenger clarifies Ozil injury; and more

European Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Pique apologizes for clash with police; Wenger clarifies Ozil injury; and more

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By RYAN TOLMICH

Gerard Pique is famous for his defensive clashes with some of the world’s top strikers on-the-field, but the Barcelona defender is now making headlines for a late-night clash with police.

The Barcelona defender issued an apology Wednesday following an incident with local police that occurred late Tuesday night. Reports say the Pique, who will have to go to court for the incident, could be heard shouting obscenities at local law enforcement after the officers issued a fine to the centerback’s brother for parking in a bus lane.

Pique, who allegedly ripped up the fine and threw it at the officer’s feet, issued an apology on social media Wednesday while also claiming that the reports were inaccurate.

“What I said has been exaggerated,” Pique said. “Anyhow I’m sorry, I made a mistake & it won’t happen again.”

Here are some more news and notes to kickoff your Thursday morning:

WENGER CLARIFIES ROLE IN OZIL INJURY

Like all athletes, Mesut Ozil has a desire to be on the field as much as possible. However, the decision to stay in the game in the face of injury appears to have cost the Arsenal midfielder months of action.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shed light on the injury woes of Ozil, who is set to miss the remainer of 2014 with a knee injury. The French manager admitted Thursday that, despite hints from team doctors, he kept Ozil on the field for an Oct. 5 loss to Chelsea because the German star did not ask to come out.

“He did not tell me anything during the game, I did not even know,” Wenger said. “What happened was that at half-time, just before we went out, the physio told me: ‘Ozil has a little pain with his knee, but it is not bad.’

“He wanted to go on and I told him: ‘If you don’t feel well, tell me and I will take you off straight away.’ He never did that during the whole game, and after that I left him on because we were in a position where we needed to score a goal and he can deliver the final ball.”

Ozil’s was discovered to be nursing a serious left knee injury while on international duty with Germany just days later.

GUARDIOLA INTERESTED BY MANCHESTER UNITED

Few teams in the game boast the amount of history and glamor as Manchester United. Having won everything there is to win, the club maintains a legacy matched by few in the game.

That legacy has drawn the interest of current Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, who has an interest in one day managing at Old Trafford according to a new book chronicling his first season at Bayern.

Guardiola, who took a one year sabbatical following numerous years of success at Barcelona, was approached by some of the world’s top teams including Manchester City and Chelsea. However, the Spaniard holds a soft spot for Manchester United, where he admitted he may some day manage.

“It was May 4, (2011), and (Pep and assistant Manel Estiarte) sat together in the stands of Old Trafford watching Sir Alex Ferguson’s team beat Schalke 4-1. Pep turned to his friend and said: ‘I like this atmosphere. I could see myself coaching here one day.’

“Guardiola has always felt a deep admiration, almost veneration, for the legendary teams and players of Europe.”

QUICK KICKS

Nigeria have fired manager Stephan Keshi just one day after defeating Sudan, 3-1. (REPORT)

Arsenal midfielder Lukas Podolski admitted that he is currently unhappy at Arsenal. (REPORT)

Juventus are continuing talks of an extension with representatives of midfielder Paul Pogba. (REPORT)

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard admits that he is outside the top five players in the world. (REPORT)

Former Premier League defender William Gallas has retired at age 37. (REPORT)

How will Pique’s incident effect his play in the coming weeks? How should Wenger have handled the Ozil situation? What would have to happen for Guardiola to end up at Old Trafford?

Share your thoughts below.

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