LONDON, AUG 30 – With the start of the football season less than a fortnight away, the pandemic is causing disruption to Premier League clubs’ pre-season plans as well as the international football calendar. Several stars are forced to train at home after returning from holidays in countries requiring quarantine and others contracting the virus.
At Chelsea – who are in the Champions League for the new season – where pre-season training has already started, as many as eight players are in quarantine, either with the virus or as a result of returning from restricted countries. Two of them, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, have been included in the England squad for the forthcoming Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark. Mount, Abraham, Christian Pulisic, and Fikayo Tomori all visited Mykonos while Jorginho Ross Barklay, Emerson Palmieri and Michy Batshuayi are also in quarantine.
Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez completed his quarantine period just in time to help his side beat Liverpool in the Community Shield match on Saturday.
Tottenham Hotspur have had problems too with midfielder Tanguy Ndombele testing positive for the virus and was removed from the France squad. He will now undergo a 14-day quarantine period. During the pre-season, Spurs have already had to make do without striker Harry Kane, their top scorer in the Premier League last season, due to quarantine issues. He had travelled to the Bahamas and did not leave the country before it was added to the UK’s quarantine travel list. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba withdrew from the France squad after testing positive for Covid-19, disrupting France’s preparation. “At the very last minute I’ve made a change in the (squad) list, because Paul Pogba, who was previously on the list, unfortunately for him he carried out a test which returned as positive,” France manager Didier Deschamps confirmed.
Pogba will now self-isolate, joining defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who faces a two-week quarantine period due to holidaying in Dubai. Both players will miss Manchester United’s pre-season match next Wednesday. It is proving to be far from an ideal off-season for United after captain Harry Maguire was arrested in Greece and found guilty of aggravated assault and attempted bribery before an appeal by his legal team was accepted.
United and Manchester City — the latter in running for the big prize of signing Lionel Messi if the Argentinian is able to leave Barcelona – will begin the new Premier League campaign a week later than other clubs after competing in Uefa’s mini-tournaments to decide the Europa League and Champions League in August.