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Klopp Not Alone in International Duty Availability “Farce”

While Alisson and Fabinho would be important misses for Liverpool, Klopp’s frustrations are shared around the league

Raphinha of Leeds United reacts following the Premier League match between Burnley and Leeds United at Turf Moor on August 29, 2021 in Burnley, England.
Raphinha of Leeds United reacts following the Premier League match between Burnley and Leeds United at Turf Moor on August 29, 2021 in Burnley, England.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

At present it is unclear whether players whose clubs refused to release them for international duty in red-listed countries will be available for selection this weekend.

For Liverpool, this is Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, and Alisson — though the former will not be available regardless due to a hamstring injury he picked up last match.

Other Premier League clubs are facing similar issues, however: Ederson and Gabriel Jesus (both Brazil) at Manchester City; Thiago Silva (Brazil) for Chelsea; Raphinha (Brazil) for this weekend’s opponents, Leeds; and Fred (Brazil) for Manchester United.

Irritatingly, though Richarlison was not released to Brazil, the Brazilian FA are fine with him playing at the weekend as a show of appreciation for the club releasing him for the Olympics.

Should they remain, the bans will affect Manchester United and Chelsea’s Tuesday Champions League fixtures as well.

While the Brazilian players are the ones in the news, players from other countries have also been affected since South American qualifiers were played in Red List Countries (which would have required a 10-day quarantine upon return): Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron (Paraguay); Raúl Jimenez at Wolves (Mexico); and Watford’s Francisco Sierralta (Chile) complete the list of players whose availability is up in the air.

While the South American FAs have requested playing bans, Premier League officials have reportedly been looking for a more favorable solution given the COVID fears — but at present, no solution has been found.

Pep Guardiola, who would be missing his first choice keeper (Ederson) through this potential ban and lacks his second choice keeper (Zack Steffen) due to a positive COVID test has said today that he plans to play Ederson.

“We are going to wait until tomorrow - right now I’m thinking they’ll play,” he said, though emphasizes that the clubs await news.

Of course, the clubs who did allow their players to travel to the qualifiers are also without their players since they are in quarantine — and also thus unable to even train with their squads.

Giovani Lo Celso, Davinson Sanchez and Cristian Romero will miss Tottenham’s match against Crystal Palace and Thursday’s Europa Conference League game with Rennes. (Tottenham might fine Romero and Lo Celso for going without permission, but that’s a whole other story.) Aston Villa are without key pair Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia.

Manchester United boss Olé Gunnar Solskjaer was clear in his disparagement of the handling of these international games.

“I think it’s a ‘lose, lose, lose’ situation for everyone - national teams, players, clubs. It’s been a farce,” he said.

“For me, I’m disappointed with the whole thing. Common sense might not be so common any more.”

Whether players went or remained with their clubs, should the bans be enforced many teams will be without key players this weekend, and thus international football is affecting the domestic competitions in a rather unprecedented way.