West Ham forward Lucas Perez has rubbished claims that he refused to warm up as a substitute during the latter stages of Satuday’s 3-1 win over Everton.
A snippet of footage showing Perez shaking his head while in conversation with a member of the Hammers coaching staff was pounced upon by fans on social media, stoked by entirely baseless claims that the Spaniard had huffily snubbed an instruction to prepare to come on.
— AreYouTheFarmer? (@harryhharman) 16 September 2018
The incident came in the 70th minute, shortly after Marko Arnautovic had left the pitch with an injury to be replaced by Michail Antonio.
The assumption that Perez had thrown a tantrum on the bench then snowballed in a fug of loose media reports until some of supporters even began calling for the 30-year-old’s contract to be terminated as a result.
However, it would appear that – surprise, surprise – the irate fans in question may have misplaced their weird anger and that Perez was explaining to a coach why Antonio had been sent on instead of him.
— Lucas Pérez (@LP10oficial) 17 September 2018
The statement above reads:
Given the false information spread by the media that has affected my image, I am obliged to explain the only truth: I have never, ever refused to warm up in my entire career, let alone play a match.
In my current club the players warm up in series of three to five minutes, in continuous rotation. In the moment that Marko got injured, I was on the bench after warming up. The coach called me to go out to play. However, after realising that it was faster to substitute Antonio in, who at that moment was warming up, he changed his decision.
The images that have been misinterpreted correspond to a talk (I had) with the goalkeeper’s coach, in which I never refused to warm up and explained what happened. As a professional I accept the decision and I will continue working hard to have as many minutes as I can.
Indeed, why would a player so desperate for opportunities spurn one in such a childish manner?
Speaking after the final whistle, Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini clearly denied all claims of insubordination, assuring reporters he “didn’t have any problem” with Perez either before, during or after the match.
Nobody listened, and now here we are – a player having to publicly defend himself against an angry mob for something he didn’t even come close to doing.