Brazil have nine top-flight players in their squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay after adding Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz to Manchester City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, Liverpool’s Allison and Fabinho, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Manchester United’s Fred, Tottenham’s Emerson Royal and Leeds’ Raphinha.
Premier League clubs were hoping their stars could be withdrawn prematurely from this fortnight’s games in order to return in time for the season’s resumption.
While the government’s quarantine rules have been relaxed to allow players to train and play on their return from ‘red list’ countries while they isolate, some of the South American sides play their third qualifiers just 24 hours before the Premier League recommences on October 16.
But Brazil head coach Tite said:
‘There was never that possibility [of them returning to England early]. They were called up for the three games.’
Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni, whose squad includes Spurs pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso plus Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez, said:
‘We are not going to do the same as last time with the Premier League players.
‘Before the game with Venezuela I said that they came to play all three games but the players raised a difficult decision for me and I understood it, I released them.
‘Now the players are here to play the three games. Under no point of view they will leave earlier.’
The situation also affects Premier League players from Colombia, Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay, who are all expected to follow Argentina and Brazil’s position.
It is just the latest development in the dispute between Premier League clubs and the South American countries currently on the UK’s red list.
Some players – including Martinez and Romero – defied their clubs by travelling to South America to represent their countries in World Cup qualifiers last month.
That was despite top-flight clubs insisting they would not release their players, while FIFA demanded the individuals be allowed to travel and play.
To avoid the confusion that their actions subsequently caused, reports suggest new Government plans will allow players coming back from playing in high Covid risk nations would be able to complete a five-day quarantine within their club bubble rather than a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine.
However, players have only been allowed to travel to red-list countries this time around if they are fully vaccinated.