The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) insisted it warned Argentina's Premier League-based quartet about the need to quarantine after Sunday's blockbuster CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier was sensationally abandoned.

The top-of-the-table fixture was halted following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up – Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

Brazil had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso were all starters for Lionel Scaloni's Copa America champions Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

As FIFA investigates, CBF released a statement on Monday, providing further information following a meeting that took place at the Hotel Marriot on Saturday amid criticism from Argentina, denying it interfered.

"CBF sent representation to said meeting as a listener, at the request of the Health Surveillance of the State of Sao Paulo, where representatives of the aforementioned agency, the Ministry of Health, ANVISA, CONMEBOL and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) were gathered.

"The CBF was represented by Dr. Roberto Nishimura, operational coordinator of the special medical committee, and there was no interference on his part in relation to administrative or sanitary aspects. This meeting ended around 18:00.

"As it understands that this is not a matter of its attribution, at no time was there any manifestation by the CBF representative to the authorities regarding the health issue of the four Argentine athletes, either in the sense of releasing or vetoing their participation in the game.

"At this meeting, the representatives of the Argentine national team were informed that there was an irregularity in the entry of players, that they should be quarantined and received guidance from the authorities to request, with the competent bodies, special authorisation for the players to have their situation regularised. It was a technical discussion between ANVISA, the Ministry of Health and the Argentine Association.

"After the meeting, when the athletes' presence was requested, the Health Surveillance agents were informed that the players had left for training, not complying with the instructions given during the meeting. The agency reported the non-compliance to the National Health Surveillance Agency and the Ministry of Health, responsible for analysing the request for exceptionality forwarded by CONMEBOL on behalf of the AFA.

"All these steps are described in detail by ANVISA in an official note published on Sunday, 5, and updated this Monday, 6, as complete at the end of this.

"On Sunday, 5th, this request had an official negative response, by the Ministry of Health to CONMEBOL, and the Argentine national team was notified, directly at Neo Quimica Arena, with enough time to adopt the necessary procedures.

"As for the information that circulated about the presence of CBF's Director of Competitions, Manoel Flores, at the Argentine delegation's hotel, CBF informs that he was in fact at the hotel on Saturday, around 3:00 pm, solely to talk about operational details of the game with the atache [member of the team organising the match] who accompanied the Argentine national team, remaining in place for about 15 minutes and not having dealt with any matter related to the Argentine players. Visiting the visiting delegation's hotel is a regular routine in every gaming operation.

"The CBF further clarifies that it strictly fulfilled its institutional role as the game's host entity, informing everyone involved in the game about the health laws in force in the country in a letter sent, through the General Secretariat of the entity, on July 5th, and later resubmitted on 11 August and 2 September.

"CBF reiterates that it defends the implementation of the most rigorous health protocols and complies with them in their entirety, both in the national territory and in countries where the Brazilian team acts as a visitor.

"The CBF also emphasises that at no time, through the interim President, Ednaldo Rodrigues, or its directors, interfered in any point related to the sanitary protocol established by the Brazilian authorities for the entry of people into the country. The role of the CBF was always in an attempt to promote understanding between the entities involved so that the sanitary protocols could be fulfilled satisfactorily and the game could be played."

Pele has revealed he last week underwent successful surgery to remove a tumour in his large intestine.

The Brazil legend, who won three World Cups, had previously taken to Instagram to deny claims he had fainted, posting he was "in very good health" after "routine exams".

However, Pele reportedly remained in hospital and on Monday explained why he had required medical attention.

"Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon," the 80-year-old wrote on his social media page.

"The tumour was identified during the tests I mentioned last week. Fortunately, I'm used to celebrating great victories alongside you.

"I will face this match with a smile on my face, a lot of optimism and joy for living surrounded by the love of my family and friends."

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez believes his country's World Cup qualifier against Brazil was suspended due to "political reasons".

Martinez was one of three Premier League players who started Sunday's match between the South American heavyweights at the Neo Quimica Arena.

However, the match was stopped shortly after kick-off when Brazilian health officials came onto the pitch to apprehend Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Brazil had called up nine players from the Premier League for their September games, but none of the group travelled.

Anvisa, Brazil's health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday's game: "Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil."

Argentina's players walked off the pitch and did not return, with the game called off by the referee. On Monday, FIFA opened an investigation into the matter.

Martinez is now set to return to the UK along with his Aston Villa team-mate Emiliano Buendia, who was not involved on Sunday, although they will travel via Croatia due to quarantine restrictions.

The former Arsenal keeper spoke to reporters at Ezeiza International Airport and did not hold back in his criticism of the decision.

"We all know what happened. We prepare for three days in Brazil to play the game and having it cancelled after five minutes is a bitter feeling," he said.

"We gave everything to win it and for political reasons, I don't know what happened, it was cancelled and we had to go back.

"There were rumours about those from the Premier League, who could not play the game, but they could have warned us when we arrived in Brazil, and we did not make enough trouble to cancel the game. Simple. They could have warned us before.

"It's a shame because we were going to win. We were confident, the team was doing well. We did not understand anything. We stayed for half an hour to see if we would go out to play or warm up again, and after 30 or 40 minutes, they told us we had to go."

Martinez also revealed there was a possibility he, along with the other Premier League players, would have had to remain in Brazil and in isolation for two weeks if not for the Argentine Football Association's intervention.

"There was the possibility that they would leave the four boys from England there for 14 days," Martinez said. "But Chiqui [Tapia, president of the AFA] helped us, backed us all and said 'we're all going' and we all left.

"Aston Villa did not understand the regulations of Brazil and why it happened. It is not something the world expected to see. It was something to enjoy and not to make a fool of yourself.

"The four of us decided to come for the love of the shirt; even though all of the Premier League [clubs] did not want us to come, we decided to come anyway.

"After winning the Copa America, the whole team wants to be with the group, not just give the national team a victory. It is something beautiful that we have and we accept the consequences."

FIFA has opened investigations into the suspended World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina.

The fixture was halted on Sunday after an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up.

Brazi had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovanni Lo Celso were all starters for Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

While a decision is yet to be made on the outcome, football's world governing body provided an update on Monday.

"FIFA regrets the scene preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world," a statement said.

"The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course."

Lionel Scaloni said he is upset Argentina's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Brazil was suspended amid farcical scenes on Sunday after Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch.

The high-profile contest at the Neo Quimica Arena in Sao Paulo, which was set to see the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi face off in a repeat of July's Copa America final, was halted just minutes after kick-off.

Local authorities entered the field in an attempt to remove four Argentina players that had apparently breached coronavirus regulations.

Those four players in question – Premier League quartet Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia – all ply their trade in England.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, meaning restricted entry to the nation for those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Brazil had called up nine internationals from the English top flight for their latest fixtures on the road to Qatar 2022, but none of the group travelled to their native country.

Despite having arrived in the country three days ago, ANVISA – Brazil's heath authority – demanded the Argentine quartet immediately quarantine.

But Argentina head coach Scaloni insisted his the Copa America champions were never informed the match was at risk of not being played.

"At no time were we notified that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the game, the players from Brazil too," he told reporters.

"It makes me very sad. I'm not looking for any culprits. Whether or not something happened, it was not the time to make that intervention.

"It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world. I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players."

When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch.

A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field.

Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina superstar Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents, including Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar.

Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said: "Here you can't talk about any lie because there is a health legislation under which all South American tournaments are played.

"The health authorities of each country approved a protocol that we have been complying with to the maximum.

"What was experienced today is regrettable for football, it is a very bad image. 

"Four people came in to interrupt the match to make a notification and CONMEBOL asked the players to go to the locker room."

The AFA also released a statement, which read: "The Argentine Football Association expresses its deep discomfort at the suspension of the meeting between the Argentine national team and the Brazilian national team in Sao Paulo. 

"Like the CBF, the AFA is surprised by the actions of ANVISA once the game has started. It should be noted that the Albiceleste delegation was in Brazilian territory since September 3 at 8am, complying with all current sanitary protocols regulated by CONMEBOL for the normal development of the qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022. 

"Following the report from the CONMEBOL officials and the match referee, the information will be forwarded to the competent FIFA body in accordance with current regulations. Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition."

Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues joined his opposite number in criticising the health officials for the timing of their intervention.

"I feel sorry for all the sports fans who wanted to watch the game on television," he told Brazil's Sportv.

"With all due respect to ANVISA, they could have resolved this earlier and not waited for the game to start."

Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Sao Paulo was halted on Sunday after the visiting side named three Premier League players in their starting XI, an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations.

The Selecao had called up nine internationals from the English top flight for their latest fixtures, but none of the group travelled to Brazil.

Argentina were able to include four Premier League stars, however, in Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia.

Martinez and Lo Celso both played in the side's 3-1 win against Venezuela earlier this week, but issues arose as they headed to Brazil.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Martinez, Romero, Lo Celso and Buendia – the first three were involved against Brazil – all fall under that category.

Anvisa, Brazil's health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday's game: "Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil."

When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch.

A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field.

Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina's Lionel Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents.

There were few immediate updates from official sources, with both Brazil and Argentina reporting only that the game had been halted. The visiting side posted a further message to say it had been "suspended".

Brazil head coach Tite has argued that European clubs preventing South American players from being released for international duty is creating inequality ahead of next year's World Cup.

Tite will be without numerous key players for Sunday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match against Argentina after several English and Spanish clubs refused to release players travelling to red list countries.

Countries on that list for travel to and from the UK require arrivals to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status.

LaLiga followed suit on the Premier League clubs, refusing to release 25 players from 13 different clubs for matches to be played in South America.

Among the Brazilian contingent were captain Thiago Silva, goalkeeper Alisson, Fred, Renan Lodi, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino.

“I feel that there must be equality for all teams and I trust the good sense of the associations," Tite said at Saturday's pre-game news conference.

"That hurts the preparation of Brazil and all the South American football teams that will be left without the same preparation for the World Cup, giving an advantage to the European teams."

Premier League pair Aston Villa and Tottenham permitted Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristiano Romero to link up with Argentina under the belief they would return after the Brazil game.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni claimed that he knew nothing about any agreement with Villa or Tottenham and intended to retain the trio for their third match against Bolivia.

Tite also hinted that Marseille midfielder Gerson would likely get a starting chance against Argentina along with Flamengo midfielder Everton Ribeiro.

Brazil remain top in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with a perfect record with seven wins from seven games, while Argentina are unbeaten in second with 15 points.

Lionel Messi looks likely to be fully fit to face Brazil despite Luis Martinez's horror tackle on the Argentina captain, head coach Lionel Scaloni said.

Venezuela's Martinez was sent off for a crude lunge on the Paris Saint-Germain star in the Albiceleste's 3-1 World Cup qualifying win this week as Scaloni's men maintained their unbeaten streak.

There were concerns Messi would be a doubt for the clash in Sao Paulo against Brazil, who are six points clear at the top of the CONMEBOL standings after winning all seven of their qualifiers.

However, Scaloni was confident his talisman would be fit to start when speaking with the media on Saturday.

"Leo is okay," he said. "This afternoon, we'll train and focus on the pitch. Those who played against Venezuela didn't touch the ball yesterday [Friday].

"We'll know 100 per cent this afternoon. In principle, he's fine. It was a big scare, but that's how it stayed."

Scaloni expects an extremely difficult match against the side Argentina beat 1-0 in the final of the Copa America this year.

"Whoever plays, they're important opposition. In no case do we minimise the game," he said.

"They're coming off an incredibly positive streak and they're at the same level whoever plays, with players of quality in every position.

"These are opponents of enormous quality, of enormous attacking power. If you're not ready for that, you can suffer. If you don't think the opponent can hurt you, you're making a mistake.

"We know that it can happen at some point, but we also know what we have to do when we have the ball. We only have one way to play: go deep with the ball into the opposition half."

Brazil preserved their perfect record in 2022 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying after edging Chile 1-0 on Thursday.

Everton Ribeiro came off the bench and scored the winning goal in the 64th minute as Brazil made it seven wins from seven games on the road to Qatar 2022.

Brazil – back in action for the first time since their Copa America final loss to La Albiceleste in July – are six points clear of Argentina atop the standings ahead of Sunday's mouth-watering showdown in Sao Paulo.

Chile, meanwhile, are seventh in the 10-team qualifying section in South America, three points adrift of the play-off position.

A refusal by Premier League clubs to release players for international matches in COVID-19 red-listed countries meant Brazil were without the likes of captain Thiago Silva, Alisson, Ederson, Fred, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, Richarlison and Gabriel Jesus.

Weverton started for Brazil in the absence of stars Alisson and Ederson and he was the busier of the keepers in Santiago, where the two nations met for the first time since the Selecao beat Chile at the Copa.

Arturo Vidal was in the thick of the action for Chile amid a strong start to the season with Inter – the star midfielder forcing a double-save from Weverton with a tricky free-kick on the half-hour mark and the latter reacted quickly to deny Eduardo Vargas' close-round rebound.

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa had earlier shown a great burst of pace to surge clear on the counter-attack, sliding the ball to an unmarked Neymar but the Paris Saint-Germain forward sent his shot high into the stands.

Vidal then forced Weverton into another save before half-time, though clear-cut chances were few and far between after 45 minutes.

The game came to life in the second half when Brazil broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 64th minute.

Chile had largely controlled proceedings, but Ribeiro and Neymar combined just past the hour mark – the latter's close-range attempt kept out by Claudio Bravo but the former was on hand to convert the rebound.

Chile continued to move forward in search of an equaliser but they were unsuccessful as Brazil kept their fifth consecutive clean sheet in qualifying and sixth in total.

 

What does it mean? Tite's men stay hot

There is no stopping Brazil on their path to next year's World Cup. The Selecao have won all of their qualifiers so far and have never lost a game under head coach Tite when scoring first.

Ribeiro the unlikely hero

With so many absentees, Ribeiro was the hero off the bench for Brazil. The Flamengo star made his international debut in 2014, but both of his international goals have come this year, within three months since June.

Chile's qualifying woes continue

The two-time Copa America champions have only won one of their seven qualifying fixtures so far, against Peru in November. Pressure is growing on Chile boss Martin Lasarte.

What's next?

Brazil and Argentina will renew their rivalry in Sunday's top-of-the-table encounter, while Chile visit Ecuador on the same day.

The first international break of the 2021-22 campaign has arrived, and with it comes an opportunity for many national teams to start afresh.

Following the conclusion of the Copa America, Gold Cup and Euro 2020 in quick succession, all roads now lead to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

For a number of players, the September qualifiers provide an opportunity to make an impression, while for others it is potentially a first taste of international football. 

With the games coming thick and fast over the next week or so, Stats Perform has looked at those in contention to make their senior international debuts.

Albert Sambi Lokonga (Belgium)

Belgium's golden generation of talent missed another opportunity to turn promise into something more tangible when losing to eventual winners Italy in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

Roberto Martinez has decided against wholesale changes after that disappointment, with Lokonga the only outfield player in line for his first cap, having failed to get further than the bench – against Greece in June – after previous call-ups.

A product of the same Anderlecht youth system that oversaw the development of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker, among others, Lokonga sealed a move to Arsenal in July after impressing in the Belgian top flight.

The £15million signing has not had the best of starts to life at Arsenal, the Gunners finding themselves bottom of the English top-flight table having played at least three league matches for the first time since October 1974.

Lokonga, noted for his ability to play in front of the defence, featured in just two of those games yet still trails Granit Xhaka alone in terms of passes (113 to 139) and successful passes (97 to 118) and is behind only Sead Kolasinac for interceptions.

 

Claudinho (Brazil)

Citing concerns over the availability of his European-based contingent due to clubs being reluctant to release players to red-list countries, Tite has named a bloated Brazil squad for this month's triple-header of World Cup qualifiers.

Those complications appear set to deny Raphinha a debut, having impressed during his first year in the Premier League with Leeds United. 

Raphinha ranks seventh in the division for dribbles attempted since the start of last season (142), completing 42.96 per cent of those. He also ranks in the top 10 for chances created over that period with 68.

But Claudinho remains in line to be capped for the first time, called up after helping his country secure Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.

The midfielder, whose signing at Zenit was announced not long after the Olympic tournament had concluded, described his call-up as "a dream come true".

Theo Hernandez and Moussa Diaby (France)

It is out with the old and in with the new as far as France's first post-Euros squad is concerned – to an extent, at least, with Olivier Giroud one of nine players to make way from the previous group named by Didier Deschamps.

Injuries have also played a part in that, potentially giving a quartet of uncapped players the chance to impress in the upcoming qualifiers with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland.

Hernandez, a more natural left-back option than brother Lucas, will feel his first call-up is long overdue following back-to-back campaigns as a regular for Milan, whom he joined from Real Madrid. 

Since making his Rossoneri bow in September 2019, no defender in Serie A has completed more dribbles than Hernandez (133), while only Federico Dimarco (87) and Juan Cuadrado (107) have created more chances than his 86.

Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and Roma's Jordan Veretout may also feature during this international break, but perhaps the most exciting of the new additions is Bayer Leverkusen winger Diaby.

The Paris Saint-Germain product scored twice and assisted another in Leverkusen's opening two Bundesliga games of 2021-22, while Alphonso Davies is the only player in the division to have attempted more dribbles this term (24 to his 22).

Known for his blistering pace and ability to take on opponents, Diaby could well provide Deschamps with a different option in an attack already packed full of talent.

 

Otavio (Portugal)

Three new players have been called up by Fernando Santos, who is looking to the future after his Portugal side's reign as European champions came to an end in July.

Goncalo Inacio is injured, but Diogo Costa and Otavio could each make their senior debuts during this international window, with the latter the name on many lips right now.

Otavio has tallied 11 goal involvementss in each of the past two Primeira Liga campaigns for Porto and has made a fast start to the new season with two assists in his first four games.

Since the start of last season, only team-mate Mehdi Taremi has provided more assists (12) in the Portuguese top flight than Otavio's 10, coming from 51 chances created.

The Brazilian-born attacking midfielder was granted Portuguese citizenship earlier this year and will be eager to show that Brazil's loss is very much Portugal's gain should he get some minutes over the next week.

Ricardo Pepi (United States)

The dual-national drama surrounding Pepi appears to have reached a resolution as the FC Dallas forward has seemingly pledged his allegiance to the United States over Mexico.

After breaking into the Dallas side two years ago and featuring regularly last year, 2021 has been quite the season for the El Paso-born youngster.

Pepi, who does not turn 19 until next January, has 11 goals and two assists in 21 games this term and scored the decisive kick in last week's penalty shoot-out win for MLS against their Liga MX counterparts in the All-Star Game.

He has 13 MLS goals in total, the fourth-most ever by a teenager – ahead of Freddy Adu – and just nine short of the record held by Diego Fagundez.

On the basis of the past four months in particular, the USMNT could have a potentially world-class player to lead their line for a number of years to come.

 

Karim Adeyemi (Germany)

For the first time in 17 years, Germany will play a match without Joachim Low in their dugout either as assistant or head coach when they face Liechtenstein on Thursday.

Hansi Flick is tasked with ushering in a new generation of German talents, with help from the old guard, many of whom were key to his successful spell at Bayern Munich.

Away from regulars such as Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer, Flick has included four uncapped players in his first squad – David Raum, Nico Schlotterbeck, Florian Wirtz and Adeyemi.

A technically gifted and supremely fast winger, Adeyemi has long been considered one of Germany's most promising young players, having cost Salzburg a reported €3m when he was 16.

Adeyemi, who left Bayern six years earlier, has been given the chance to spread his wings with Salzburg and has been strongly linked with Red Bull sister club RB Leipzig.

He already has six goals in six Austrian Bundesliga appearances this term, just one less than he managed in 29 top-flight appearances last time out – a return he will be looking to build on if he is given the nod by Flick.

Justin Bijlow (Netherlands)

The Netherlands are another European heavyweight going through a transitional period of sorts after turning to veteran coach Louis van Gaal for a third stint in charge.

Frank de Boer failed to get the most out of this talented Dutch squad and already Van Gaal has put his own mark on the team by calling up a few newbies.

There will be plenty of focus on the goalkeeping position as, with Jasper Cillessen not fully fit and Maarten Stekelenburg recently retiring, Joel Drommel and Bijlow can stake a claim to be the long-term number one.

Bijlow is considered one of the finest young goalkeepers in Europe and already has 45 Eredivisie games under his belt for Feyenoord, where he is a real fan favourite.

The 23-year-old has kept 15 clean sheets across those appearances and boasts a save percentage of 72.16. Van Gaal can seemingly rely on the young stopper, as he has made just one error leading to a goal.

Manchester City top FIFA's list of the biggest spenders on internationals transfers in the past decade.

The world governing body on Monday revealed $48.5billion worth of player trading was done between 2011 and 2020.

Premier League champions City have spent big on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias during that period, so it is no surprise they top the list.

Chelsea and Barcelona are second and third respectively on the list - which does not state how much each club spent in total.

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid make up the top five, while 12 of the top 30 clubs, who alone have spent €19.3billion in the time period, are from England.

Neymar's move from Barcelona to PSG was for a world record fee of €222m, while Madrid brought in Eden Hazard from Chelsea for a deal that could reportedly climb to €175m (£150m).

Barcelona have the next two largest transfers, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele joining from Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

Argentina forward Angel Di Maria also holds two slots in the top 10 of the highest individual transfers, his deal to join Manchester United from Madrid in 10th with his subsequent move to PSG a place higher.

Players of 204 different nationalities have been transferred since 2010-11, Brazil way out in front with 15,128 moves.

Agents have played a hugely increasing role in international transfers, with their involvement growing 69.1 per cent from 2011 to 2020.

From €131.1m worth of commissions in 2011 to €640.5m in 2019, a total of €3.5bn was paid for agents' commissions in international transfers over the course of the decade. 

Pep Guardiola has announced his intention to leave Manchester City and explore opportunities at international level when his contract expires at the end of next season.

Guardiola is now in the penultimate year of his deal at the Etihad Stadium, where he has been in charge since July 2016.

After replacing Manuel Pellegrini at the helm, the former Barcelona boss has won three Premier League titles, four EFL Cups and the FA Cup during his tenure with the Citizens.

The 50-year-old revealed he does not plan to extend his stay with the club, and that he is targeting an opportunity with a national side.

"After seven years at this team, I think I'm going to have to stop," he said at an XP Investimentos event.

"I'm going to have to take a break, see what we've done, and review inspirations. 

"And in the process, I would like to coach a national team – South American, European, playing a Copa America; I want to have that experience."

However, Guardiola talked down his chances of succeeding Tite as head coach of Brazil.

The City boss feels the current crop of Brazilian stars are unfairly compared to their predecessors of yesteryear, but he insists they will be one of the favourites at next year's World Cup in Qatar.

"Current teams will always lose to history," he added. "If you compare this Brazil with Pele's, with the [World] champions of 1994, the current one will always lose. 

"But if you ask me what I think of Tite's team: fantastic. Some are my players, others are rivals' players, but they're fantastic.

"If you compare them to the past, teams from the past always win because they don't play anymore. But Brazil are always a favourite – in the Copa America, in the World Cup – always have been and always will be; it's part of their culture.

"I think the coach of the Brazilian national team will always be Brazilian; I don't see a foreigner at teams like Brazil."

Atletico Madrid have completed the signing of Matheus Cunha from Hertha Berlin for a reported €26million fee.

Cunha, who is Brazil Under-23s' all-time leading goalscorer, joins Diego Simeone's side on a five-year deal and will provide capable support to talisman Luis Suarez up top.

Speculation had linked the 22-year-old to Everton, Atalanta and Napoli, but the reigning LaLiga champions swooped in to secure his services after a move for Dusan Vlahovic fell through.

Cunha initially moved to Europe to play for Swiss side Sion, subsequently joining RB Leipzig before finding a new home with Hertha in 2020.

Last term, the versatile attacker scored eight and assisted six across 28 games in all competitions, leading Hertha's charts ahead of second-place Dodi Lukebakio with 12 goal involvements.

The Brazil striker created 54 chances - 18 more than closest team-mate Vladimir Darida – putting him sixth among forwards playing in Germany.

Solely in the Bundesliga, the former Leipzig man has improved in front of goal in every campaign since 2018-19 and most recently scored a career-high seven goals in the German top-flight, finding the target with 62.5 per cent of shots.

Similarly, Cunha almost doubled his touches in the opposition box in such fixtures last year, producing 98 in comparison to 53 last term and 58 the year before.

 

However, it is in terms of dribbling where Atletico's new man comes to the fore.

Since his arrival in Berlin on January 31, 2020, only five forwards across Europe's top-five leagues have completed more dribbles than Cunha's 123 – successful in just over 60 per cent of all dribbles he attempted.

No player in the Bundesliga can match that dribbling tally while Yannick Carrasco is the only Atletico player to have completed more than 100 dribbles in the same time frame.

Cunha will likely be tasked with partnering Suarez as a second striker, perhaps replacing the in-form Angel Correa as Los Colchoneros go in search of back-to-back LaLiga titles.

Makeshift forward Correa has scored eight goals in his last 10 across all competitions - including three in his last two - for Simeone's men, having previously netted seven times in his last 73 for the club.

Cunha could feature as early as Sunday against Villarreal for the defending Spanish champions, who have started a new campaign with consecutive wins for the fourth time during the Simeone era.

Brazil boss Tite has included uncapped pair Claudinho and Raphinha in a 25-man squad for a trio of World Cup qualifiers in September.

The Selecao are quickly back in action after the disappointment of missing out on Copa America glory on home soil, with games against Chile, Argentina - who defeated Brazil in the final - and Peru coming up next month.

Claudinho receives his opportunity after helping his country secure Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020, including starting in the 2-1 final win over Spain.

The midfielder has made a move to Europe to continue his club career, his signing announced by Zenit not long after the Olympics tournament had concluded.

Raphinha, meanwhile, gets an opportunity after impressing in his debut season with Leeds United. The winger - signed from Rennes - scored six goals in 30 Premier League appearances under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa.

His tally of nine assists was the most by any player for Leeds, who finished ninth on their return to the top tier, while also completing 45.53 per cent of his 123 attempted dribbles.

"We've been following Raphinha for some time now, since he moved to the Premier League," Tite explained at a media conference.

"We look for information in every way, and he has an accentuated dribbling technique. He has scored a number of important goals too, a decisive player."

Tite has also selected Lucas Verissimo as well as the evergreen Dani Alves, Brazil's 38-year-old captain at the Olympics.

However, Atletico Madrid left-back Renan Lodi, who started the 1-0 Copa America final loss to Argentina, is a surprising omission from the list, while there is also no place for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz.

"When we say competition at a high level, this is it," said Tite of the tough selection calls he had to make. "They will continue to be followed.

"It's for Douglas to return to his best level, play a lot for his club and come back. Renan Lodi has not been participating in the games, but in training.

"I talked to him, because it's not because of an individual mistake that he doesn't come back, he doesn't have that here. He's a great player."

Brazil have a rematch with rivals Argentina on September 5, two days after a tricky trip to Chile. They round out the run of qualifying fixtures for Qatar 2022 by hosting Peru on September 10.


Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Veríssimo (Benfica), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Danilo (Juventus), Daniel Alves (Sao Paulo), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Claudinho (Zenit), Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool); Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Richarlison (Everton), Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Barbosa Flamengo), Raphinha (Leeds United).

Pep Guardiola will take the mental health of his international stars into consideration as Manchester City prepare for a quick turnaround into the new season.

The Premier League champions went down to a 1-0 Community Shield defeat against Leicester City on Saturday, their former striker Kelechi Iheanacho coming off the bench to win and convert a late penalty at Wembley.

Guardiola remained without Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus after their respective runs to the finals of Euro 2020 and the Copa America with England and Brazil.

The sextet will return to training on Monday, while Kevin De Bruyne is still on the mend after an ankle injury sustained during Belgium's progress to the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

Aymeric Laporte – a Euros semi-finalist with Spain – must self-isolate until the middle of next week because a passenger on his flight back to the United Kingdom after a vacation tested positive for COVID-19. The defender has tested negative.

It adds up to a far-from-ideal preparation for next weekend's league opener at Tottenham, a fixture likely to be lent a tempestuous edge by City's pursuit of Harry Kane.

Nevertheless, Guardiola knows a return to peak physical fitness will come in time, even though he again took aim at scheduling arrangements by UEFA and FIFA in his post-match comments at Wembley.

The former Barcelona boss is more concerned about the mental strain endured by players who have been on a near non-stop schedule since returning to action from the coronavirus lockdown last June.

Asked whether his England players would benefit from being afforded an extra week of rest, he replied: "It depends on their heads. They have to rest and now they can be ready, but it depends on here [the head].

On whether his returning internationals would be ready to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Guardiola replied: "A few players get the condition so quick, others need a little more time. We will see the weight, the body fat, how they arrive. And especially their heads.

"There are players who play three, four or five days and their mentality is positive and they are ready to fight and suffer in the bad conditions. Some of them take a little more time.

"We will try to discover which ones are ready immediately."

Foden is unlikely to be among that group, given he must still recover from the foot injury that ruled him out of England's penalty shoot-out loss to Italy.

Stones was an ever-present at centre-back for Gareth Southgate's side, while Sterling and Walker were each named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

"All of them, they played really well. I'm glad and happy for them. They have had many years together," Guardiola said.

"They made an incredible achievement. When you achieve a final in the Euro it's a big, big thing.

"They have to be so proud of what they have done with the national team. The benefits to the confidence will be there.

"But the past is the past. What you have done with the national team is for the memories. The challenge is ahead of us to do a good season."

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