Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo has urged authorities to provide solutions to the South American international duty issue, which could see Spurs lose both Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso for an extended time.
The Premier League’s Argentine players are set to defy orders not to travel on international duty, despite Premier League clubs unanimously deciding not to release players for international matches in places on the UK’s red-list next month.
The decision had been taken so players will not have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to England. Argentina, Brazil and Egypt are among the nations currently on the UK Government’s red list regarding travel to England.
But speaking after Spurs’ 1-0 win over Watford, Nuno said the club “do not approve” of players going on international duty, but does recognise how difficult it would be for them to turn down their country.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s a big problem, not only for our players, but for all the South American players playing in the Premier League because they have to obey the government law.
“But we must be aware that saying no to a national team is very difficult. We will see how things go but we are here to look after our players, and we will do our best to manage the situation.
Returning to England from ‘red-list’ countries
The Government states those returning to England from a country on their red list must quarantine for 10 full days in a managed quarantine hotel and take a coronavirus test on or before day two and on or after day eight of quarantining.
“Our position is clear, as a club we don’t approve the situation, so what we want is a solution for everybody, because this will be a big problem, not only for this international break, we have one in one month’s time, two months’ time, and we must find a solution, because we cannot stay without our players.
“At the same time, national teams demand, so it’s a difficult situation, that we expect solutions, or at least some answers.”
Asked if he had spoken to the players about going on international duty, Nuno said: “We already did [speak to the players], we speak among ourselves, we deal with our own problems.”
With international breaks to come in October and November, the issue could become sizeable for both Spurs and other Premier League clubs. In his post-match press conference, Nuno called on FIFA, the government and the Premier League to help.
“We will try to do so but at the same time we don’t have any kind of help from FIFA, the government or the Premier League in support in this situation.
“We know what it means for all of the players to play for their national teams. It’s something they’re very proud of, so what we are trying to do is anticipate the situations. So expecting that not only for the next international break but also there will be a couple more, so we need to be clear.
“We are trying to find the best way to have the players sooner when they return.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino had said earlier in the week that he had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and “appealed for the necessary support, in particular, so players are not deprived of the opportunity of representing their countries in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup, which is one of the ultimate honours for a professional footballer.”
Villa allowing Buendia, Martinez to travel
Aston Villa confirmed on Sunday evening that Emi Martínez and Emi Buendía have travelled to join up with the Argentina squad “with the permission of the club in accordance with FIFA’s international match call-up rules.”
Both players have agreed to make themselves available for Argentina’s vital first two World Cup qualifying matches against Venezuela and Brazil but will not take part in the third international match against Bolivia.
The arrangements mean that Martinez and Buendia will miss Villa’s Premier League match with Chelsea on September 11, before being available for the visit of Everton to Villa Park on September 18, both live on Sky Sports.
Villa said in a statement: “There are no easy solutions as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to adversely impact professional sport. After careful consideration, we think this plan respects the long-established call-up rules and balances the importance which top players place on representing their countries in important matches with the best interests of Aston Villa.
“We wish all of our players who are joining up with their national teams the best of luck in their upcoming matches.”