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Tottenham’s South American internationals could miss the Newcastle match Oct. 17

Spurs are talking with the national FAs, but it doesn’t look good.

Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021 Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur are in negotiations with the football associations of Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia to allow their four South American international players to return home from this week’s international break a little early, but the prospects don’t look good.

According to Dan Kilpatrick in the Standard, Spurs have four South American players who are affected by the ongoing restrictions related to playing football in so-called “red-listed” countries — Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero (Argentina), Emerson Royal (Brazil), and Davinson Sanchez (Colombia). All three international teams are scheduled to play three World Cup qualifiers this week and next, with their last match late Thursday evening local time. If all four were to stay for all three internationals, they would not be able to return until Friday or Saturday, making their inclusion in Nuno Espirito Santo’s matchday squad dubious at best.

Spurs are trying to work out a deal with all three FAs that would allow them to return after the second match this weekend, giving them ample time to return to London and complete their required quarantine periods before the trip to St. James’ Park. But Kilpatrick tweeted this morning that despite negotiations, this possibility seems remote.

However, Spurs’ misery would at least have company. All Premier League clubs with South American internationals called up for duty are in the same boat, a group that includes Aston Villa, Chelsea, Leeds, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool.

The Premier League had previously announced a softening of travel restrictions for international footballers returning from red-listed countries. Instead of a ten day quarantine at a government-mandated hotel with no contact with anyone else, those affected can instead quarantine for ten days in club-chosen facilities but still travel with their clubs to training and matches. For Spurs this would likely mean in the plush hotel at Spurs Lodge, and it would not require a training detour to Croatia as it did for last month’s international breaks.

This is, once again, a product of not only the reality of playing football during a global pandemic, but also the intransigence of international FAs who have a vested interest in qualifying for the World Cup, as well as that of clubs who have similar self-interest for their league season. The players are once again caught in the middle, and at least based on recent history, the club teams are getting the short end of the stick. It doesn’t seem likely that this issue is going to go away anytime soon.