Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard has opened up on how he experienced depression during the coronavirus lockdown.

The France international explained in an interview with newspaper Le Parisien that isolation became a heavy burden and he sorely missed normal social contact.

Pavard, now 26, was in his first season with Bayern when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, having joined from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart.

When players went into isolation in late March of 2020, Pavard said it became a challenge to stay positive.

He said: "It was difficult for everyone, for me too. To be alone, in a country other than mine, I was really not well. In my head, something was wrong.

"At the beginning, you tell yourself that it's nothing, that it will pass, but when you see that it persists, that you go to training and that you don't have a smile on your face, you have to react."

The Bundesliga became the first major league in Europe to resume, as it started up again in mid-May 2020, albeit behind closed doors.

Pavard sought and found support to help him through the trying times.

He said: "I am human like everyone else, and even if I have a super nice house with a weight room, I needed contact with others.

"I got up, I had no appetite. I tried to keep busy, to cook, to watch series. But Netflix is ​​fine for two minutes… I don't like the word depressive, but that was the case."

The former Lille player explained that he turned a corner and now feels "much better".

“I came out of all this as a man, it changed me," he said. "I was on my own like many football players and I had to surround myself well to raise my head. I managed to bounce back from difficult times."

France international Benjamin Pavard might have left Bayern Munich in the last transfer window, if not for a conversation with Julian Nagelsmann.

Pavard helped France win the World Cup in 2018 and joined Bayern from fellow Bundesliga club Stuttgart a year later.

The versatile defender, who can play at centre-back or full-back, has been a regular for the Bundesliga champions and, if he is fit, is likely to be part of Didier Deschamps' France squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Pavard has featured eight times in all competitions for Bayern this season, scoring twice, though with Bayern signing right-back Noussair Mazraoui and centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, he revealed he came close to leaving the club, and may well have done if not for Nagelsmann.

"I questioned myself, I had calls from different clubs with my agent," the 26-year-old said in an interview with Telefoot.

"Afterwards, I spoke with the Bayern coach, we have a good relationship.

"He made me understand that I was in his plans, that I was important for the team."

 

Pavard, however, did not close the door to a move away from Munich, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

"Maybe one day I will go to one of these clubs, you never know what the future holds," added Pavard, who has been reported to be of interest to Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea.

"I still [have] a year at Bayern Munich. Afterwards, we have time to decide."

Bayern have made a poor start to the season by their standards, as they aim to win the Bundesliga for a record-extending 11th successive campaign.

Despite beating Barcelona to make it two wins from as many games in the Champions League, they lost 1-0 to Bavarian neighbours Augsburg on Saturday, a defeat that came on the back of three successive draws in the Bundesliga.

Sadio Mane scored on his Bayern Munich competitive debut as the Bundesliga champions withstood a late fightback to beat RB Leipzig 5-3 in the DFL-Supercup.

Julian Nagelsmann's side lost Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona recently, but Mane – a €41million signing from Liverpool – suggested he will not have any problems filling the void left by the Poland international.

He slid home from close range in the first half to double Bayern's advantage at the Red Bull Arena after Jamal Musiala had given the Bavarian giants an early lead.

Benjamin Pavard made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, with Serge Gnabry adding a fourth after Marcel Halstenberg pulled one back for Leipzig. Christopher Nkunku crashed home from a penalty and Dani Olmo powered home late on as Domenico Tedesco's men rallied, before Leroy Sane hit a fifth for Bayern with the last kick of the game.

Bayern were rewarded for a bright start in the 14th minute when Musiala steered past Peter Gulacsi from 10 yards after Leipzig failed to clear a corner.

An unmarked Mane made it 2-0 in the 31st minute with a simple finish from eight yards after he had been picked out by Serge Gnabry. Bayern then appeared to put the game to bed on the stroke of half-time when Pavard slotted home from the impressive Musiala's pull-back.

Halstenberg reduced the deficit moments after Andre Silva hit the crossbar, the defender sending a looping header into Manuel Neuer's far corner.

Gnabry restored Bayern's three-goal lead in the 65th minute with a close-range strike after Gulacsi kept out Thomas Muller's initial effort. 

Nkunku scored Leipzig's second in the 77th minute with a powerful penalty after Pavard fouled Olmo, before Spain international Olmo added a third with a cool finish in the 89th minute.

Bayern had the final say, though, when Sane raced clear and slotted past Gulacsi deep into stoppage time to seal a third consecutive DFL-Supercup triumph.

Real Madrid are the latest side to enquire about the availability of 20-year-old Chelsea striker Armando Broja, but the Premier League club are maintaining that he is not for sale.

The Albania international has been the subject of significant interest after a successful loan spell at Southampton last season, netting nine goals in 38 appearances.

Chelsea reportedly turned down a £30million offer from West Ham for Broja, and although Thomas Tuchel is said to be a fan, Madrid are eager to land the youngster.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA'S RISING ALBANIAN DRAWS REAL MADRID'S INTEREST

Since Romelu Lukaku departed from Chelsea on a season-long loan to Inter, questions have been asked about what the London club's plans are to bolster their attack.

The Evening Standard's report claims Carlo Ancelotti is on the hunt for young strikers to find a potential successor to 35-year-old Karim Benzema, although with Timo Werner potentially on his way back to RB Leipzig, Chelsea may have simply decided that Broja must stay.

West Ham have also reportedly not been driven away yet and remain interested, as do Everton and Newcastle United.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Bild, Bayern Munich full-back Benjamin Pavard would be willing to join Chelsea if they make a serious offer.

– The Telegraph is reporting RB Salzburg want £55m for 19-year-old Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko, who is a Manchester United target, according to Manchester Evening News.

– Sky Sports Italia claims Juventus would like to acquire Barcelona forward Memphis Depay on loan, however the Catalan giants wants to make it a permanent deal.

– 90min say Everton are in advanced discussions with Chelsea to bring Ross Barkley back to the club, and they also have interest in Michy Batshuayi and Billy Gilmour.

– According to Talksport, West Ham are willing to meet the £17.5m release clause for 25-year-old Burnley winger Maxwel Cornet.

N'Golo Kante will miss the entirety of the Nations League Finals as Didier Deschamps is unwilling to take a risk with France's superstar midfielder, who has contracted coronavirus having just returned to fitness.

Kante was named in the French squad for the previous international break but missed out through injury, included only as an unused substitute against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Chelsea man has not played for his country since Euro 2020 and will not now be involved against Belgium in the Nations League semi-final, nor in either the final or third-place play-off after that.

Kante was missing from Chelsea's 1-0 defeat at Juventus on Wednesday due to testing positive for COVID-19.

France coach Deschamps acknowledges Kante would have been cleared in time for the second Nations League Finals match on October 10, but he doubts the midfielder would be in any condition to play to the best of his ability.

"It is 10 days since Monday, so you calculate," Deschamps said. "There was always the assumption that he would be there for the second game, but after 10 days without training, knowing that he was injured recently...

"I would prefer him to be there, but I also prefer him 100 per cent. Let him take advantage of this period to regain his physical freshness."

There is also no Kingsley Coman, who has been restricted to just eight minutes since the previous international break, or Thomas Lemar, as he battles a hamstring issue.

Steve Mandanda has been dropped after losing out to Pau Lopez in the Marseille goal, while Olivier Giroud's recent return for Milan is not enough for a recall – a "sporting choice", Deschamps explained, after other forwards impressed last time.

But the defence now looks a lot healthier, as Bayern Munich men Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez are able to rejoin the squad, as does team-mate Dayot Upamecano, who had to pull out last time. Deschamps listed Hernandez's brother Theo as a midfielder.

Crucially, the calf injury that kept Kylian Mbappe out of France's most recent games has subsided, meaning Deschamps must again attempt to strike a balance in attack, where Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema excelled in the Paris Saint-Germain forward's absence.

Griezmann, who has Deschamps' backing after a tricky start to his second stint at Atletico Madrid, scored twice against Finland – the first assisted by Benzema – as Les Bleus bounced back from draws with Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"What happened is in the past," Deschamps added. "There is a title to play for. We have a semi-final to play against one of the best teams in Europe and the world, if not the best.

"We have given everything to qualify for the Finals. Now, we are there. We keep the same state of mind; we want to go for the title."

France squad:

Benoit Costil (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Milan); Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Digne (Everton), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United); Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco), Jordan Veretout (Roma); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).

Robert Lewandowski's scoring streak ended and Benjamin Pavard was sent off, but Bayern Munich still cruised to a 3-1 victory over Greuther Furth in the Bundesliga.

In a Bavarian derby battle between top and bottom on Friday, Bayern were in control at half-time following goals from Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich at Sportpark Ronhof.

There was hope for Furth when France full-back Pavard was shown a straight red card early in the second half for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak.

The champions remained a class apart from their newly-promoted opponents despite Pavard's dismissal and a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal increased their advantage, with a late Cedric Itten header no more than a consolation for the home side.

Lewandowski was unable to match Gerd Muller's record of scoring in 16 consecutive Bundesliga games, but Julian Nagelsmann's moved three points clear at the summit.

Bayern wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, with Leon Goretzka's early long-range drive flashing just wide.

The champions were in front in the 10th minute, when Thomas Muller finished clinically with his left foot after Maximilian Bauer could only divert Alphonso Davies's cross into his path.

Furth were unable to live with Bayern and Kimmich doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark with a measured right-footed strike from 25 yards out after Leroy Sane laid the ball back to him.

Lewandowski flicked Kimmich's corner against the crossbar as Bayern dominated, but they were a man down when Pavard was given his marching orders for upending Dudziak three minutes into the second half.

Bayern continued to pose a major threat despite their numerical disadvantage, Sascha Burchert getting down to keep out Lewandowski's first-time shot.

Nagelsmann was shown a yellow card for dissent before Kimmich's free-kick was turned into his own net by Griesbeck, under pressure from Lewandowski.

Itten nodded in Timothy Tillman's inviting cross with a couple of minutes remaining, but the points were in the bag by then for Bayern.

Alphonso Davies is back for Bayern Munich, but Julian Nagelsmann has been hit by another injury blow ahead of his belated bow with Benjamin Pavard ruled out.

Nagelsmann will get his Bayern reign under way at Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Friday, having seen last week's DFB-Pokal opener against Bremer postponed due to coronavirus-related quarantine measures imposed on the lower-league side.

That time has allowed left-back Davies to recover, though, making a swift return from ankle ligament damage suffered on international duty with Canada last month.

Davies played only 23 league games last season but led all Bayern defenders in recoveries (201) and boosts a back line that will now miss Pavard due to a training-ground ankle setback of his own.

"Phonzie did quite well and made a good impression," Nagelsmann said in Thursday's pre-match news conference. "It is an advantage that he is a model athlete.

"He won't be able to play the full 90 minutes yet, but I already have in mind that he will start.

"We will see how far his legs carry him. He is definitely a candidate for the first XI. We're glad he's back.

"That [injury] with Benji is very, very annoying because he played a good pre-season. He's a player I've scheduled for his position. Now he's gone for a few weeks.

"When he comes back depends on the healing process. We don't know exactly how long.

"We have players in the squad like Bouna [Sarr], Niki [Sule] or Josip [Stanisic] who can replace him."

Pavard's absence will be particularly frustrating for Nagelsmann as he has identified the defence as an area in which Bayern must improve.

While Nagelsmann's RB Leipzig boasted the best record in the Bundesliga last term (32 goals conceded), Bayern shipped 44 goals – their most since 1995-96 (46).

It ultimately did not cost the champions as they picked up 22 points from losing positions, more than any other club, but their new coach insists this approach is not sustainable.

"This is a decisive factor that we want to improve," he said. "Nobody wants to always chase after a 0-2 deficit.

"We would do well to bring in more stability defensively. Defending always has to do with attitude."

Bayern have already made a change at the back, replacing David Alaba with Dayot Upamecano, but additional transfer activity may occur further up the field.

Nagelsmann acknowledged the Bavarian giants were currently reliant on "13 or 14 players" staying healthy, and they have been linked with Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer to add further depth.

"I know Marcel very well, I've worked with him for a long time," Nagelsmann said. "He is a very good player.

"Basically, we handle this, as in recent years, that we do not comment on rumours that are floating around anywhere in the transfer market."

UEFA is satisfied with the France medical staff's assessment that Benjamin Pavard did not lose consciousness in Tuesday's Euro 2020 clash with Germany.

Pavard claimed after Les Blues' 1-0 Euro 2020 victory over Germany that he "felt a little knocked out for 10 to 15 seconds" following a collision with Robin Gosens.

The right-back received treatment for several minutes at the Allianz Arena and was eventually allowed to continue playing.

Pavard's return to the pitch and subsequent comments drew criticism from world players' union FIFPro, who demanded answers from UEFA for failing to follow the "concussion charter".

The charter was signed by all 24 teams at Euro 2020 – a commitment to taking a series of measures to improve the care of players and includes neurological baseline testing and access to in-match television replays for team doctors.

However, UEFA released a statement on Thursday stating they are happy the France medical team did not breach a concussion protocol by allowing Pavard to play on.

"According to the reports that we received from the team doctor, it seems that a loss of consciousness did not occur," the statement read. 

"The team doctor did not find any reason to suspect a concussion either on the pitch or after thorough assessment made by a renowned specialist in this field in later follow-up.

"The player will nevertheless continue to be closely monitored over the coming days."

The statement added: "All 24 teams committed to follow the recommendations of the UEFA Concussion Charter before the start of the tournament and the responsibility for decision-making remains with the team doctor.

"If the team doctor has any doubts about unconsciousness or signs of concussion, he should remove the player from the field. 

"The team doctor is the only person who can take the decision for the player to stay on the pitch or be substituted. The team doctor's decision must always be respected, even if the player or the coach believes that the player is fit to continue."

France's 1-0 victory in Munich, sealed through Mats Hummels' first-half own goal, leaves them second to Portugal on goal difference in Group F ahead of Saturday's clash with Hungary in Budapest.

Benjamin Pavard revealed he was knocked out for "10 to 15 seconds" before returning to the field in France's 1-0 win over Germany at Euro 2020.

Pavard sustained a head injury following a collision with Germany's Robin Gosens as world champions France opened their Group F campaign with victory on Tuesday.

France defender Pavard was left on the floor before receiving treatment for several minutes in Munich, where he was eventually allowed to continue.

"I took a hell of a shock," Pavard told beIN Sports post-match.

"I was a little knocked out for 10 to 15 seconds. After that, it was better."

A "concussion charter" was signed by all 24 teams at Euro 2020 – a commitment to taking a series of measures to improve the care of players and includes neurological baseline testing and access to in-match television replays for team doctors.

But the incident involving Pavard has raised further questions about concussion protocols in football.

FIFPro has long called for temporary concussion substitutions and the enforcement of a minimum six-day gradual return to play.

"The issue of concussion is a very serious issue. It's a health and safety issue, which is related to their work place. In my point of view, I don't think it's been addressed in the proper manner it should be addressed," FIFPro vice-president Francis Awaritefe previously told Stats Perform.

"We've seen the medical data around the long-term risks of concussion and how they can have a deleterious long-term effect for people who suffer concussion when it's not managed properly.

"We're really worried about it because football seems to be a long way behind some of the other sports in terms of protocols and just in terms of the way how seriously they're taking concussion.

"For me, it's a massive issue. We don't want to wait until a player has a serious injury that it might end their career or worse, we have a player die on the field or soon after because of a concussion issue that wasn't treated properly.

"As a sport, we need to reflect on this and get together with experts to come up with smart and proactive solutions to deal with this really, really serious issue."

Brendan Schwab – executive director of the World Players Association – also told Stats Perform previously: "When concussed, it's not the time for the player to make a decision as to whether they should continue in a game. That is a decision that needs to be placed in the hands of independent medical assessors who have no duty other than to act in the best interests of the player.

"There needs to be independent medical assessors on the sidelines. But we do expect this to be resisted because it is resisted in other sports. We now have independent medical assessors on the sidelines of the NFL and it's only because the NFLPA fought for that right. It was a battle.

"Now the suggestion that the club doctor knows the player better than another doctor, again, is not a medically-based comment. What we do know, however, is that the club doctor who is employed by the club has a conflict of interest. That conflict of interest needs to be minimised and voided in circumstances when dealing with head injuries.

"If FIFA doesn't change, what we will see is football leagues at the national level collectively bargain their own variation of the laws of the game. In Australia, the knowledge is clear that the clubs as employers would be in breach of health and safety requirements, and acting against the wishes of the unions, by putting players back into the game when they're clearly in a vulnerable position. What's to prevail there? Laws of the game or national health and safety laws? National health and safety laws have to prevail. It won't be a defence to any action for an employer to say 'we were simply providing an unsafe work practice at the behest of FIFA'."

Benjamin Pavard has tested positive for COVID-19, Bayern Munich have confirmed.

France international Pavard has begun self-isolating at home but the club said he was "in good health".

Bayern face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Saturday before the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lazio in Rome next Tuesday.

Hansi Flick's side are unbeaten in their nine games without Pavard this season, winning seven of those matches and conceding just eight times.

Pavard has attempted 41 crosses from open play in the Bundesliga in 2020-21, with Lucas Hernandez the only Bayern defender to have more (44).

However, only five of Pavard's deliveries have found a team-mate, compared to 15 for Hernandez.

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez have not featured this month following positive coronavirus tests in January.

The duo, along with Serge Gnabry who has been dealing with a thigh issue, trained on Wednesday while the rest of the first team were granted a day off.

Benjamin Pavard's VAR-assisted goal proved decisive as Bayern Munich beat Tigres UANL 1-0 to clinch their second FIFA Club World Cup title.

Without the influential Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng, Bayern laboured for much of Thursday's final in Qatar, with their usual efficiency in front of goal absent.

A harsh offside decision from the VAR denied Joshua Kimmich a first-half opener, but the technology came to Bayern's aid in the 59th minute when it instructed referee Esteban Ostojich to overturn the decision to disallow Pavard's goal for a Robert Lewandowski offside.

The first North American team to reach the Club World Cup final, Tigres had a hopeful penalty appeal dismissed shortly after Pavard's effort, but they failed to test Manuel Neuer as Bayern completed a clean sweep of six trophies over the course of the last 12 months.

Kingsley Coman's winner in last season's Champions League final ultimately booked Bayern's spot at this tournament, but the winger flapped at an early chance following a bright start from Tigres.

Kimmich thought he had put Bayern ahead with a thumping effort in the 18th minute, only for the goal to be disallowed for Lewandowski having been offside, despite hardly interfering with play.

Tigres were caught cold by a short corner after the half hour, with Leroy Sane's strike crashing against the angle of the post and crossbar.

Yet the pressure finally told just before the hour. Lewandowski beat the Tigres offside trap and went in for a header which Nahuel Guzman parried straight to Pavard.

His finish was initially disallowed, but VAR said the decision should be overturned.

Pavard almost turned from hero to villain minutes later when he blocked Luis Quinones' cross and it rebounded back onto his arm, but the officials fairly judged it was ball-to-hand.

Tigres pushed for an equaliser but only managed to come close to conceding again – Corentin Tolisso having an effort tipped onto the post before Guzman made a fine save to deny Douglas Costa and Kimmich, as Bayern wrapped up the trophy they previously lifted in 2013.

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