Spurs, Villa in row with Argentina over international stars

Tottenham and Aston Villa are embroiled in a new club-versus-country row as their Argentine players risk missing out on the next two Premier League fixtures.

Sky Sports News has been told that Villa only allowed Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez to go on international duty on the understanding they would be released by Argentina immediately after Sunday’s World Cup Qualifier against Brazil – while it is understood Spurs had no such agreement for Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso to travel.

It would mean the players would only miss one Premier League match for their club, once they had completed their 10-day period of isolation on return from a UK government red-list country.

However, Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni claims he is totally unaware of any agreement with Villa and said they would all be available also for next Thursday’s game against Bolivia.

“We gave the list for the three games and there are no doubts about that,” Scaloni said following Argentina’s 3-1 win over Venezuela on Thursday.

“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.”

Buendia
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Aston Villa’s Emi Buendia is already set to miss their Premier League game against Chelsea next weekend

Romero and Lo Celso will already sit out Tottenham’s game at Crystal Palace next Saturday at 12.30pm while Buendia and Martinez won’t feature in Villa’s trip to Chelsea at 5.30pm on the same day.

However, if Argentina retain those players for their final qualifier against Bolivia, all four will be forced to miss another league match the following weekend.

In that case, Villa would welcome back Buendia and Martinez after they host Everton on September 18 – while Lo Celso and Romero would be unavailable for Spurs’ Europa Conference League opener at Rennes on September 16 as well as their clash against Chelsea on September 19.

It is understood both Spurs and Villa expect their players to return to the UK early next week.

Argentina's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez warms up prior to the Copa America final soccer match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
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Emiliano Martinez helped Argentina win the Copa America trophy in the summer

Martinez and Lo Celso started in Venezuela on Thursday, while Buendia did not make the matchday squad and Romero was suspended.

The September international window has been shrouded in controversy with various leagues declaring they would not release players if they had to quarantine on return due to worsening Covid-19 rates in South America.

Premier League clubs took that decision “reluctantly but unanimously” although some clubs have agreed to allow their players to join up with their national sides regardless of quarantine measures.

The UK government refused to grant exemptions to quarantine measures for professional football players despite FIFA president Gianni Infantino writing a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to overturn the decision.

Chile, Mexico and Paraguay this week asked FIFA to apply sanctions on Premier League clubs which could prevent them from fielding players after the international window.

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