Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called it a “farce” that Premier League clubs remained unsure if they could field their Brazilian stars this weekend as the row over their refusal to release them for international duty continued.
As it stood on Friday lunchtime, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Leeds were due to be without key players after the Brazilian federation asked FIFA to enforce rules preventing players from playing for five days if they failed to report for international duty.
Premier League clubs made a collective decision not to release players for duty if it meant them travelling to red-list countries as they would face 10 days of quarantine on their return.
It is understood the Premier League remains in talks with FIFA, the clubs and the Government over the issue.
Solskjaer, who could be without midfielder Fred for Saturday’s match against Newcastle, said: “I think it’s a lose, lose, lose situation for everyone – national teams, players, clubs. It’s been a farce…
“For me, I’m disappointed with the whole thing. Common sense might not be so common anymore and we need to prepare a game without Fred.”
Manchester City face the prospect of being without Gabriel Jesus and goalkeeper Ederson away to Leicester, potentially prompting a recall for third-choice stopper Scott Carson given number Zack Steffen contracted Covid-19 while on duty with the United States.
“Right now, at 1.35pm, it is unclear,” Guardiola said when asked if the pair could play. “I don’t know, hopefully they can play…
“Argentina players can travel and they can’t play the game. And after, Brazil asked to ban players who cannot travel. They cannot play there and they cannot play here. It’s crazy.”
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who may be without Thiago Silva at home to Aston Villa, said he could not understand who benefitted.
“It makes no sense from which side you look at it,” he said. “Does it make sense for Brazil? No. Does it make sense for us? No.”
Liverpool’s Brazil forward Roberto Firmino will miss Sunday’s trip to Leeds through injury, but the situation for Alisson and Fabinho is unclear.
The hosts could be without Raphinha, who missed what could have been his first cap for Brazil. Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa said the row was the product of a saturated calendar with too many matches.
“It’s convenient for the industry that there are a lot of games,” he said. “They don’t care if players are saturated, injured or play badly because they play too much. The (answer) is that we should all earn less then we can have fewer games.”
Everton were expected to have Richarlison available, with the Brazilian federation not complaining about the forward’s absence after he did play at the Olympics.
The situation did not only involve Brazil players – Watford’s Chile international Francisco Sierralta could also be prevented from playing.
However, Mexico withdrew their complaint, freeing Wolves forward Raul Jimenez, while Newcastle boss Steve Bruce revealed an agreement had been reached meaning that Paraguay midfielder Miguel Almiron could travel to Manchester United.
But Bruce was wary of a repeat next month, and said a proper plan had to be put in place.
“It is what it is, but it’s been even more difficult this time, especially with the South Americans involved going to countries which are red-listed,” he said.
“Maybe the Government has to get involved the next time.”
While others hoped their players would be permitted to play, Spurs and Aston Villa will definitely be without the Argentina players who did travel – only for their presence to lead to the abandonment of their match in Brazil as health officials dramatically intervened on the pitch.
Dean Smith insisted Aston Villa were left in an impossible situation over Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia – who are now quarantining in Croatia alongside Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.
“It was a no-win situation all round. Each club had to come up with the best solution for themselves,” Smith said.
“We were all in a rock and a hard place.”