The Claudio Bravo we all know in England is very different to the Claudio Bravo we cover when it comes to the Chile national team.
Even when the English media were tearing Bravo to shreds for his Manchester City performances, the stopper stayed relatively quiet, kept his head down and wasn’t kicking up a fuss.
In Chile the slightest bit of implied criticism has, over the years, seen Bravo go to war with his home country’s media and throw strops.
Now there’s another issue. Bravo has refused his latest call-up for the Chile national team because they won’t allow him to have the goalkeeping coach he prefers.
La Tercera quote the Manchester City player as saying: “It’s a situation that I have talked about more than 30 days ago with the coach, when he visited me in Manchester. We talk about many things. I’ve been in the national team for many years and I always try to be at my best.
“If I go to the national team, I want to train and compete. It is not that I am imposing something, as the president says. Moreover, I proposed to pay travel and salary for a person to help the Chilean goalkeepers to grow. I don’t see myself more than ten years in the national team, I do not plan for the long term. If I see a guy who is better than me, I’m going to grab my gloves and I’m going to go. I want to be at the maximum.
“I am asking if you can help me out and if you can open the door to a person who will help me a lot. Arturo (Salah) agreed and was going to meet him, but now the refusals arrived.”
Salah is the president of Chile’s football association, and La Tercera say there’s now a ‘red hot dispute’ between the two men.
Bravo sent another ‘dart’: “There’s a reason the minor teams do not work. It’s for a reason we don’t go to the Olympics or the World Cups. We have good guys for the ball, agile, with good jumps, but something happens that doesn’t work. We end up wasting generations. And it’s because friends of friends work.”
Of course, it seems the Manchester City player would rather it was his own recommendation, which could bring accusations of the very thing he’s angry about.
Bravo has also criticised a goalkeeping coach, José Ovalle, who had previously worked with Chile, believing he was overweight: “It was a lack of respect. I told him.”
Ovalle has since hit back: “It is not right to physically denigrate another person, but each one has his own idea, his education… I am 52 years old and I have diabetes, which is why it is difficult for me to maintain my weight.”
Salah won’t accept Bravo’s conditions, and is quoted as saying: “Claudio or any player can make suggestions or recommendations, the coaching staff can take it or not, but it’s very different to have that as a condition of a call-up. That cannot be accepted.
“There is no player who can have exceptions or privileges. If each player made demands of that type it would become anarchy.”
In what is clearly becoming a soap opera, the Manchester City player hit back: “I am one of the few who travels without his family to the matches, but the family of the president does. And he says that I am the anarchist.”
Bravo has been Chile’s captain for some time and whilst that hasn’t often been questioned, it’s only natural that the current situation would change things.
Former international Jorge Aravena is quoted by La Tercera as saying: “He must not remain captain. It’s very simple: he can ask that they consider him (the preferred goalkeeping coach), but he cannot be demanding to hire people that he likes. This is not going to the supermarket and choosing what you want. The federation has people and that has to be respected.
“Regardless of what he says he pays the goalkeeper coach, in the national team he must train with the national team. I am surprised that he makes this demand of the national team and not of Manchester City.”
Sergio Navarro, also a former Chile international, added: “I do not know if there is another player trained to carry it (the armband). Bravo’s position had already been weakened by his wife’s statements regarding Vidal. Perhaps his reasons are valid, but, then, as a captain he lacked presence to raise them internally.”
The goalkeeper’s wife had accused players of being drunk at training, and being to blame for Chile’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, and, of course, everyone took Arturo Vidal as the target.
The drama is front page news for several Chilean newspapers today, with El Grafico going with the headline ‘Bravo put out the fire with petrol’.
It’s Reinaldo Rueda’s first international break as Chile manager and the situation was always going to be difficult, with the World Cup failure and the soap opera surrounding Bravo’s wife and mother-in-law criticising several of the squad.
Rueda didn’t need the Manchester City player to cause such a scene, but Bravo insists he hasn’t retired, adding: “Me and Rueda is super clear, everything is talked about and there is no problem. I am not definitively renouncing the national team, but in these conditions it is difficult to be there. I have the door open, but I do not want to go for a walk to the national team, for what?”
Should Claudio Bravo push this situation much further, not being in the national team may no longer be his choice to make.
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‘We are facing the beginning of the end of the f****** master of press conferences.'
— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) March 15, 2018