JEFF POWELL: Premier League clubs blocking stars from jetting off to play for their countries stinks of greed and selfishness… Jolly Jurgen and Professor Pep will soon change their tune when they are on the other side!
- Premier League clubs met and agreed last week to stop top stars from travelling
- Tottenham and Aston Villa struck deals with Argentina and others could follow
- The stance of managers smacks of hypocrisy and it’s high time they grow up
- Greed and selfishness has dominated the division since its breakaway in 1992
The refusal by most of England’s leading clubs to release foreign stars to play for their countries is the latest and potentially single most damaging act of betrayal of the game the world knows and loves by the so-called greatest league on planet football.
The sickening odours of greed and selfishness have wafted out of the Premier League since the day it broke ranks with history by abandoning the time-honoured Football League.
Add now the foul stench of hypocrisy. Personified by some of its most fabled managers. And, yes, that includes Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola has looked to stop South American stars like Gabriel Jesus jetting off this month
Jurgen Klopp has also backed players staying at their clubs but he could soon change his tune
Jolly Jurgen is eyeing a return home from Liverpool to take charge of Germany’s national team. Professor Pep has announced the date when he will depart Manchester City to go in search of an international post, presumably with Spain.
Yet here they are twisting the arms of their South American players to avoid being quarantined out of club matches by staying at Anfield and the Etihad rather than play for the likes of Brazil and Argentina.
Not in relatively meaningless friendlies, by the way. In World Cup ties, no less.
The same condemnation applies to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, where Edison Cavani’s reward for the likelihood of being over-shadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo is to be ordered out of Uruguay’s squad.
Let us not forget Thomas Tuchel. The new rave of the King’s Road he may be but no doubt he, too, harbours ambitions of coaching Germany one day. Right now, though, he is the most outspoken about how it is the clubs who pay those inflated wages to the likes of Thiago Silva, so to hell with the countries.
As for Rafa Benitiez, his man Richarlison has made clear his angst at being locked down at Everton.
Richarlison has appeared to voice his disapproval on Instagram in the row over internationals
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel (right) said that Thiago Silva (left) would not go to play for Brazil
How will any of these feted gentlemen be viewed in this context if and when they move on to international duties. Two-faced doesn’t begin to describe it.
They are being put to shame by their counterparts at Aston Villa and Tottenham, with manager of the latter Nuno Espirito Santo saying that he cannot deny his players the opportunity of playing for their homeland. Quite right.
Yet the self-important reaction of the Football Association Premier League Limited under its chief executive Richard Masters – and the majority of its clubs – is resentment and anger at the few who have broken with their shabby agreement to prevent players flying to countries on the government’s travel red list.
Those adhering to this document of self-interest, this convenience of the moment, will come to regret it.
From now on very few if any foreign players with the most vaulting of aspirations will join a Premier League club unless his contract stipulates his right to play for his country whenever that call comes.
Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani (left) expressed his bemusement at the Premier League’s decision
And will the managers deal with the players they are keeping in lockdown if defeats in their absence in the coming days in South America result in them missing out on Qatar 2022?
It is every footballer’s dream to play in the World Cup Finals but that privilege comes around only once every four years.
Even greater harm will be inflicted on the game itself if any of Brazil – who are the most wounded – Argentina and Uruguay fail to qualify this time.
Next year’s tournament would be diminished and the image and future of the truly greatest sporting event on earth – one watched by hundreds of millions more than the Olympics – would be weakened.
And lost with it would be the forum for fame each World Cup offers the next generation.
In their blinkered counting houses have any of the culprits in this disgrace paused to consider that without the World Cup the beautiful game would never have been treated to the full majesty of Pele, Maradona, Garrincha, Cruyff, Moore, Beckenbauer, Zidane, Charlton, Ronaldinho and his countryman Ronaldo… to name but a few.
The Premier League will celebrate its 30th birthday this coming February 20. It’s high time it grew up.
Giovani Lo Celso (left) and Cristian Romero (right) are to join the Argentina players who will travel to ‘red list’ countries after Tottenham came to an agreement over their release
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