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Lionel Scaloni: “under no circumstances” will Tottenham’s Argentina internationals be released early


Brazil v Argentina - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Well, at least there’s clarity. Argentina national team manager Lionel Scaloni has put to bed any hopes that Tottenham Hotspur fans might have had of Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso being able to return from international break early.

When asked about the possibility that Lo Celso and Romero might be able to miss the third and final World Cup qualifying match against Peru to give them extra time to return in order to feature for Tottenham against Newcastle next weekend, Scaloni said no, and in no uncertain terms.

“We are not going to do the same as last time with the Premier League players, under no circumstances. [In September] I said that they came to play all three games but the players raised a difficult decision for me and I understood it, so I released them. Now the players are here to play the three games. Under no point of view they will leave earlier.”

Well, that just sucks. Scaloni playing hardball here on the Peru match next Thursday night means that the window for Romero and Lo Celso to get back to England in time to be available for Tottenham’s trip to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle is extremely tight. The Standard article states that the club hasn’t fully given up on the idea of them rushing back and being available to play, but it does feel pretty unlikely. And while we haven’t heard from the Brazil or Colombia federations, Argentina’s stance makes it more likely that the same will be true for Emerson Royal and Davinson Sanchez as well.

The Standard article in which these quotes are printed also confirms what we already knew — all four players are double-vaccinated, meaning that while they’d still have to quarantine for ten days upon return from a red-listed country, they could return directly and would be able to train and play with their teams during that quarantine period. So while the underlying issues — COVID travel restrictions and three-match international breaks — haven’t changed, the mechanics are slightly easier.

But it’s still ridiculous. The players want to play for Argentina because they’re rightfully concerned that if they raise objections or refuse to report that they’ll lose their place in their national team sides. But doing as FIFA and their FAs ask means they potentially miss additional matches for the club team that pays their salaries. The only winner in this scenario is Argentina which is getting exactly what they want with no repercussions.

I hate it here.