A number of key Premier League stars have defied orders from their clubs and will travel to join up with their international teams.
The Argentine quartet of Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez, of Aston Villa, and Spurs duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero have travelled to South America for a trio of World Cup qualifiers.
But they will break a compromise that the respective clubs had struck with their players, which had allowed them to travel to take on Venezuela on Thursday and then Brazil on Sunday – on the proviso that they returned to England immediately after the game, rather than staying for the clash with Bolivia on September 10.
But Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni is having none of it, telling reporters:
“we gave the list for the three games and there are no doubts about that.”
“The players are here to play all three games. We never had a refusal from the clubs. We spoke and reached a conclusion that they had to come.”
The issue is that they will need to quarantine for ten days on their return to England, and that will mean that they miss Premier League matches due to staying in South America for the Bolivia match.
If Scaloni reneges on the original deal, Lo Celso and Romero will miss Tottenham’s game against Crystal Palace on September 11, their Europa League clash with Rennes on September 16 and their Premier League encounter with Chelsea 72 hours later.
And in news that fantasy team managers up and down the land will need to know, Buendia and Martinez could be forced to sit out Aston Villa’s fixture with Chelsea on September 11 and their home date with Everton a week later.
The UK government has so far refused to change their quarantine rules for international footballers, and so anyone travelling to a red list country must quarantine for ten days upon their return to England.
That has left many Premier League clubs in an awkward position – they must comply with the orders of Boris Johnson and co, and break it gently to their players that international football is off the table for now.
They released a statement which made their position clear, writing:
“Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-list countries next month.
“The clubs’ decision, which is strongly supported by the Premier League, will apply to nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs who are due to travel to 26 red-list countries in the September international window.”
Naturally, many nations were apoplectic with the Premier League’s stance depriving them of their players for key World Cup qualifiers, and they have lobbied FIFA in attempt to threaten chiefs with punitive action.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has written to Premier League officials hoping for a resolution, but it’s unlikely any will be forthcoming until there is a change of stance at a governmental level.