Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Thomas Tuchel have admitted they are unsure whether Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Chelsea’s Brazilian stars are allowed to play in the Premier League this weekend.
Earlier this week, the Brazilian football federation (CBF) wrote to FIFA asking that an automatic restriction be placed on the players from appearing for their clubs between September 10 and 14.
The players are Ederson and Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, Liverpool trio Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, Fred at Manchester United, Thiago Silva at Chelsea and Raphinha at Leeds.
Newcastle, Wolves, Watford were also roped into the scenes after withholding their Central and South American players from representing their nations at the recent international break.
Discussions have continued the clock ticks down to the weekend, as Premier League clubs argue the unprecedented circumstances of the global pandemic were sufficient justification for their decision to stop their players from travelling – with the likes of Brazil and Paraguay on the UK’s COVID red list.
The ban was branded ‘ridiculous’ and ‘absurd’ by talkSPORT host Simon Jordan, who backed the Premier League clubs to fight the restrictions. Unconfirmed reports claim the sides involved have all agreed to defy FIFA and are planning to field their ‘banned’ players.
However, all three managers claimed on Friday they still had no idea whether they can select the players, with Man City and Man United kicking off in just over 24 hours at 3pm on Saturday against Leicester and Newcastle respectively.
Liverpool face a trip to play Leeds on Sunday, and Klopp said ahead of the match: “I don’t know what will happen at the weekend, to be honest.
“In this moment, we have to see what other people decide and then we will again accept that probably, do what people tell us and try to win a football game.
“But the whole situation is really just like the whole world in the moment in a nutshell – ‘ah, in football they have these problems as well.’ Yes, we have these problems. And now we will see who finds the solution.”
Guardiola said on Friday afternoon: “Right now, at 1.35pm, it is unclear. I don’t know, hopefully they can play. We are going to wait to see if they can play or not.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, was more strong on the matter, labelling the situation a ‘farce’ with the Norwegian waiting for a decision on midfielder Fred.
“I think it’s a lose-lose-lose situation for everyone: national teams, players, clubs. It’s been a farce, really,” Solskjaer said.
“The players want to play but we all know what kind of situation we find ourselves in the last year-and-a-half with the pandemic, the travels and everyone trying to limit the spread of the virus.
“We’ve worked really hard before this to try to find a way. Private jets, you know, there are ways of getting them in and out but all the decisions have gone against the players, that’s for sure.
“They want to play for their national teams, they want to play for their clubs, but they’re not allowed. For me, I’m disappointed with whole thing. Common sense might not be so common anymore.
“We need to prepare for the game without Fred but still, fingers crossed, that some sense can come into people’s minds and that we can use him.”
Tuchel agreed with the suggestion that it was a situation that nobody won out from.
The Chelsea boss said: “I don’t understand it, it makes no sense from either side. Did it make sense from the Brazilian national team? No. Did it make sense for us? No.
“Because now we are in danger that he maybe cannot play the next two matches, because of a ban. If we would have sent him he would be out for 10 days in a hotel room, not able to train.
“Which I can understand because these are the travel restrictions at the moment. And nobody wants that.
“So these solutions where we are right now, these discussions, I don’t know if any fan or anybody involved in the game can understand the positive effect of it. There is simply none.
“The chairman is still in negotiations, and I’m still positive and he is not out yet officially.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce confirmed that Paraguayan forward Miguel Almiron would be available for the trip to Old Trafford.
Almiron also did not meet up with the Paraguay squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela last week, and it was understood that the Paraguay Football Association had asked FIFA to invoke its five-day rule, meaning he would not be allowed to play for the Magpies this weekend.
However, head coach Bruce said on Friday morning an agreement had been reached for the Magpies ace to play.
“It’s a difficult one for the players, very, very difficult because all they want to do is play football,” added the Toon boss.
“The ultimate is to play for your country – and I can understand that – and of course play on a Saturday, so they’ve been drawn into a very difficult situation.
“However, a bit of common sense has prevailed with Almiron that he’s available, so we’re extremely pleased that that he’s available for selection.”
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