Roberto Firmino (Getty Images)
English Premier League clubs are set to make do without their South American stars next weekend after the Brazil and Argentina coaches said they would not release their players early.
South American teams are playing three World Cup qualifiers crammed into a single week but the last of those are on Thursday, October 14, just two days before the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea play their next Premier League fixtures.
With the CONMEBOL qualifiers taking place in the evening in a later time zone, there is little hope of South American players returning to their clubs in time — or rested enough — to play in the afternoon on October 16.
But unlike last month when Argentina agreed to release four players early so they could return to their clubs, Tottenham and Aston Villa, national team coaches have ruled it out this time.
“That has never been a possibility. They were called up for the three matches,” said Brazil’s coach Tite on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s clash with Venezuela.
In September, English sides refused to release their players due to the British government’s coronavirus quarantine restrictions for people returning from red list countries, which include most of South America.
Britain has since relaxed those restrictions allowing the Premier League’s fully vaccinated South American and African stars to represent their countries without prejudice to their club commitments.
But the issue with South America remains over timings.
“Under no circumstances are we going to do the same as last time,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, whose team plays Paraguay on Thursday.
“Now it’s a totally different situation, under no circumstances will the players leave before playing the three matches.”
Other countries such as Uruguay and Chile are expected to likewise hold onto their players.
It means that the likes of Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Liverpool trio Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho, Manchester City duo Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani and Fred, and Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, will almost certainly miss their clubs’ next matches.