Tottenham and Aston Villa in new row with Argentina over availability of international players

Premier League's Argentine players defied orders not to go on international duty; Aston Villa agreed to release Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez if they were to be allowed to return to the UK after Sunday's game against Brazil; players may have already broken quarantine rules

AP: Emiliano Martinez and Cristian Romero
Image: Emiliano Martinez and Cristian Romero are away with Argentina on international duty

Tottenham and Aston Villa are embroiled in a new club-versus-country row as their Argentine players risk missing out on the next two Premier League fixtures.

Sky Sports News has been told that Villa only allowed Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez to go on international duty on the understanding they would be released by Argentina immediately after Sunday's World Cup Qualifier against Brazil - while it is understood Spurs had no such agreement for Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso to travel.

It would mean the players would only miss one Premier League match for their club, once they had completed their 10-day period of isolation on return from a UK government red-list country.

However, Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni claims he is totally unaware of any agreement with Villa and said they would all be available also for next Thursday's game against Bolivia.

"We gave the list for the three games and there are no doubts about that," Scaloni said following Argentina's 3-1 win over Venezuela on Thursday.

"The players are here to play all three games. We never had a refusal from the clubs. We spoke and reached a conclusion that they had to come."

Buendia
Image: Aston Villa's Emi Buendia is already set to miss their Premier League game against Chelsea next weekend

Romero and Lo Celso will already sit out Tottenham's game at Crystal Palace next Saturday at 12.30pm while Buendia and Martinez won't feature in Villa's trip to Chelsea at 5.30pm on the same day.

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However, if Argentina retain those players for their final qualifier against Bolivia, all four will be forced to miss another league match the following weekend.

In that case, Villa would welcome back Buendia and Martinez after they host Everton on September 18 - while Lo Celso and Romero would be unavailable for Spurs' Europa Conference League opener at Rennes on September 16 as well as their clash against Chelsea on September 19.

It is understood both Spurs and Villa expect their players to return to the UK early next week.

Argentina's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez warms up prior to the Copa America final soccer match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
Image: Emiliano Martinez helped Argentina win the Copa America trophy in the summer

Martinez and Lo Celso started in Venezuela on Thursday, while Buendia did not make the matchday squad and Romero was suspended.

The September international window has been shrouded in controversy with various leagues declaring they would not release players if they had to quarantine on return due to worsening Covid-19 rates in South America.

Premier League clubs took that decision "reluctantly but unanimously" although some clubs have agreed to allow their players to join up with their national sides regardless of quarantine measures.

The UK government refused to grant exemptions to quarantine measures for professional football players despite FIFA president Gianni Infantino writing a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to overturn the decision.

Chile, Mexico and Paraguay this week asked FIFA to apply sanctions on Premier League clubs which could prevent them from fielding players after the international window.

Argentina players may already have broken quarantine rules

Brazilian health officials will visit the Argentina team on Saturday to investigate whether their Premier League players broke COVID-19 quarantine regulations ahead of Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Brazil.

The Argentina squad flew into Brazil on Friday, the day after beating Venezuela 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Caracas.

Under rules published by Brazil's health regulator Anvisa, visitors who have been in the UK in the 14 days before entering Brazil must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

Tottenham's Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso, right, react after Pacos de Ferreira score the opening goal
Image: Romero and Giovani Lo Celso could face an extended stay in South America

"We were notified by Anvisa and officials are going to the hotel where the players are staying to verify the correct procedure was followed," an official with the Sao Paulo Health Secretary told Reuters.

Brazilian news site UOL said if the four players could not provide documents showing they were exempt from quarantine they could be prevented from playing in the game against Brazil.

The two rivals are scheduled to play at the Corinthians arena in their eighth of 18 World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil lead the South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022, six points ahead of second-placed Argentina. The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup.

There has been anger in South America after several teams were deprived of key players for this months triple header of qualifiers. Brazil are without nine key men for the Argentina game, and other South American sides have also lost players due to a decision by some European clubs not to let their players travel to the continent.

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