Football UK

Premier League clubs worried over next month’s South American internationals


Premier League clubs are growing increasingly concerned about releasing players for next month’s internationals.

England boss Gareth Southgate has a Wembley triple header with a friendly against Wales and Nations League matches against Denmark and Belgium.

But perhaps of greater concern is the South American World Cup qualifiers begin with Brazil facing fixtures against Bolivia and also away in Peru which has been particularly hard hit.

Premier League stars Fabinho, Alisson, Thiago Silva, Douglas Luiz, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino were all named in the Brazil squad and clubs will be anxious to confirm that, where possible, they use private jets rather than commercial flights.

Peru’s only received confirmation on Wednesday from CONMEBOL that they could move the fixture from 9.15pm to 7.15pm because there is a nationwide 11pm curfew in the country while no fans will be allowed but they insist the match will go ahead.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino is one of several Premier League stars called up for Brazil
Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino is one of several Premier League stars called up for Brazil

South American qualifiers were due to start in March, even last month FIFA put fixtures on hold and are due to publish strict protocols in the next days which are expected to make them exempt from any quarantine, although any final decision may rest with the relevant health departments.

Denmark’s English-based Premier League stars like Kasper Schmeichel and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg took commercial flights home from international duty last month but clubs will be anxious that “safety bubbles” are maintained particularly in the face of a sharp rise in cases.

Southgate names his squad next Thursday when it is highly likely Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood are set to be omitted after they were sent home from Iceland in disgrace.

Prem clubs are even concerned about the England get-togethers for fear of a greater risk but the Football Association will be quick to allay fears as they will start the camp at St George’s Park, then use a hotel nearer Wembley and keep to the strict protocols.

That includes testing when they report up, regular pre and post-match tests plus wearing masks in all public areas of the hotel, a strict time limit on team meetings and the secure bubble is maintained.


Edouard Mendy has been on some journey from being jobless to signing for Chelsea
Edouard Mendy has been on some journey from being jobless to signing for Chelsea

There has been an interesting dynamic and back story to Chelsea signing Edouard Mendy, their new £22m keeper from Rennes.

Kepa Arrizabalaga has been a huge issue for Chelsea for the past 18 months as the £71m keeper’s form has worryingly declined and turned into the Spain international dropping a clanger virtually in every game.

It has clearly been a huge summer in terms of transfers and there were noises at the club to push to sign Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, do a deal for around £100m, try to offload Kepa and effectively go all in to try and solve the problem once and for all.

Chelsea believed Oblak was ready for a move to English football, fancied a new challenge and the keeper is rated as one of the best in the world, many believe he is No1.

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But it is understood that it was Petr Cech, unquestionably the best in the world during his career, who pushed for Mendy and championed his signing. Cech, Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor, effectively gave his stamp of approval and reputation against Mendy’s signing.

Cech joined Chelsea from Rennes in 2004 and must feel some affinity and Mendy’s story is a brilliant fairytale. Five years ago, the 6ft 5in keeper, was without a club, jobless and queuing up at his local job centre.


Young English players are blossoming abroad amid Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham’s success at Borussia Dortmund.

Lyon’s former Tottenham striker Ref Griffiths, 20, is also blossoming in France as the Ligue 1 club have made him captain of the B team, rebuffed approaches from England to take him on loan and told him they want him to push for the first team.

Griffiths has scored five goals in six games this season and the club – which has an excellent record of youth development – have been impressed with his work rate and professionalism.


Germany has been leading the way on crowds returning to football and the Bundesliga has also looked at overseeing one interesting idea.

They have been looking at varying numbers on fans allowed into stadiums depending on the local infection rates.


Aston Villa followed on from the signing of Ollie Watkins who began his career at Exeter City by signing England youth starlet Ben Chrisene, 16, from the League Two club.

Exeter are brilliant at developing young players and have a big sell-on clause written in.


National League clubs could find themselves in a bizarre situation with their season on hold, crowds not allowed and yet could be playing FA Cup qualifying ties over the next few months with limited supporters currently allowed into grounds.

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