Leeds United have been preparing for this weekend’s fixture with Liverpool in the knowledge that talisman Raphinha may be unavailable.
The Brazilian did not feature in either of Leeds’ matches against the Reds last season, and was set to be blocked from appearing this time around due to the Brazilian Football Federation’s (CBF) complaint to FIFA.
The complaint concerned Leeds’ refusal to release the 24-year-old winger, who had earned his first call-up to the Selecao squad last month, due to coronavirus restrictions.
Raphinha would have been forced to quarantine in a hotel for ten days on his return to the United Kingdom, had he taken part in Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers this month.
With the CBF launching a complaint to FIFA this week, it looked unlikely that Raphinha would be able to feature against Liverpool, along with Reds trio Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino.
Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce may have shed some light on the issue, speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Magpies’ trip to Old Trafford this weekend.
The North East club were posed with a similar problem regarding Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron.
Like Raphinha, Almiron was due to represent his country in South American nations which are currently ‘red-listed’, meaning mandatory quarantine is required on return to the United Kingdom.
Bruce said: “He [Almiron] is available – that’s been confirmed to us this morning. It’s good news, and a bit of common sense from everybody, in that respect.”
This could mean a solution has been reached between the Premier League, FIFA and CONMEBOL’s complainant football federations.
Premier League CEO Richard Masters had been in negotiations earlier this week, in an attempt to find a resolution which would permit players to represent their clubs without interruption.
Brazil manager Tite also took a differing stance to his own federation this week, proclaiming that public health was of greater importance in this specific situation, and that Premier League clubs could be justified for not releasing their players.
However, with no official confirmation yet on Raphinha’s availability, Bruce’s comments only provide a glimmer of hope as things stand.
Paraguay’s footballing federation may well have withdrawn their complaint with FIFA, permitting Almiron to play, but Brazil may have upheld theirs.
Jurgen Klopp stated he ‘didn’t know’ whether his Brazilian players would be available this weekend in a video shared by Liverpool’s official social media channels.
Marcelo Bielsa is expected to shed more light on the situation this afternoon with his pre-match press conference.