Fabinho praised the impact made by Raphinha since arriving in the Premier League and says he expected the Leeds United winger to join Liverpool earlier this year.

Raphinha has starred for Leeds since arriving from Rennes for a reported £17million (€20m) in October 2020 and was rewarded with his first cap for Brazil last week.

The 24-year-old further enhanced his reputation with two goals, while also winning a penalty, in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory against Venezuela.

He also featured as a second-half substitute in Brazil's stalemate with Colombia and is in contention to play a part in Thursday's clash with Uruguay.

Fabinho, who played a full the full 90 minutes in those two previous matches, has been particularly impressed by what he has seen from his international team-mate at club level.

"Since he arrived in the Premier League, has been performing and standing out very well at Leeds," Fabinho told reporters.

"Even in the summer transfer market, there was some talk that he could go to Liverpool. I even expected that to happen, but he stayed at Leeds."

Indeed, Raphinha's agent Deco has confirmed Liverpool showed an interest in the winger during the most recent transfer window without making a formal move.

"He's an important player," Deco told Brazilian outlet O Globo. "There are certainly several clubs that like him, and Liverpool do like him.

"There were approaches, but nothing official. Leeds wanted to keep him for another season."

That interest from Liverpool came on the back of a debut campaign in English football that saw Raphinha score six goals and assist nine more in the Premier League.

Only five others assisted more goals in the division last term, and while he has yet to set up a goal this campaign, his expected assists return of 1.81 ranks him among the top five players.

The ex-Sporting CP attacker already has three league goals to his name in 2021-22, coming from 24 shots, while only four others in the league have attempted more dribbles than his 37 – a list topped by Wolves' Adama Traore (61).

With Raphinha poised to feature for Brazil some 36 hours before Leeds' meeting with Southampton, however, Marcelo Bielsa faces being without his most influential attacker this weekend.

"There is no doubt that it's a short turnaround," Bielsa said at his pre-match news conference on Thursday. 

"The options he has to participate in the game on Saturday depends on whether he plays this final game tonight, how many minutes he plays, how he finishes the game after participating in it and how efficient his rest in the next 36 hours is.

"Considering that a third of those hours he will spend on a flight and if there is any risk that fatigue could cause injuries, then we won't risk it. There are so many aspects to consider that I can't offer you any certainty either way."

Fabinho revealed he and Alisson are set to miss Liverpool's Premier League clash with Watford due to international commitments with Brazil.

The Reds duo were part of Tite's squad for October's World Cup qualifying fixtures against Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay, the latter of which will be played in the early hours of Friday morning in United Kingdom time.

Fabinho believes they will not have time to return from South America in time for Saturday when Liverpool face the Hornets in the league for the first time since losing 3-0 in February 2020, a result that ended their 44-game unbeaten run in the top flight.

"I believe that this first match against Watford, it will be very hard for us," he told reporters in Brazil. "I don't think we'll play. Neither Alisson nor myself.

"The match against Uruguay will be Friday overnight there [in the UK] and the match against Watford is at 12:30pm [BST on Saturday].

"With all of what is involved with travel, I don't know how much time we'll have between one game and the other. I believe that we won't be playing."

Fortunately for manager Jurgen Klopp, Tite opted to leave Roberto Firmino out of the Selecao squad, meaning he will be available for the trip to Vicarage Road as Liverpool look to make it 18 league games unbeaten.

Fabinho also revealed the club are considering flying him, along with Alisson, straight to Spain for their Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday to avoid the 10-day quarantine on their return to England.

"We will also need to quarantine, but the club is still studying whether it is better to go straight to Spain to play against Atletico and quarantine there, without staying in a hotel in England," he continued.

Similar issues occurred in the previous international break, with Brazil calling for a domestic ban for their absent players when Premier League clubs agreed not to let them travel for matches amid concerns about the need to quarantine when they returned.

However, FIFA eventually confirmed South American stars could feature following September's internationals.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva said he hopes Neymar does not lose his joy of football after the Selecao star revealed the 2022 World Cup may be his last.

Neymar has dominated headlines since hinting next year's Qatar showpiece could be his final hoorah with Brazil, having admitted he does not know if he has the "strength of mind to deal with football" much longer.

The 29-year-old has carried the weight of a nation amid criticism since bursting on the scene with Santos in 2009 before making his Brazil debut the following year.

Only Brazil great Pele (77) has scored more goals for the national team than Neymar (69), who has won the Confederations Cup (2013) with the South American powerhouse to go with an Olympic Games gold medal in 2016.

Silva leapt to the defence of Brazil team-mate Neymar in an emotional message of support.

Neymar misplaced 15 passes in Sunday's 0-0 draw at Colombia – his highest tally in a game this qualifying campaign.

"Here at the national team, I have gone through some moments that are very similar [with what Neymar is going through], especially after 2014 World Cup [7-1 semi-final loss to Germany following Neymar's tournament-ending injury]," Silva told reporters, having also played alongside Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.

"I was called a crybaby, weak, very weak, mentally. These are things that hurt you and you know that you are not what you have been called.

"I hope he doesn't lose his joy, continue to be happy the way he always is. He is a very special kid and, when he's happy, doing what he loves, he delivers."

"If you need someone strong to be by your side, know that I will always be there. The Silva family love you," Silva added in an Instagram story.

Silva was speaking as Brazil prepare for Thursday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Uruguay.

Brazil's run of nine straight victories in their qualifying campaign was ended in Colombia.

Tite's Brazil remain top of the CONMEBOL standings, six points clear of rivals Argentina through 10 games.

"I think we are on the right path," Silva said. "I have been with the Brazilian team for a long time, I have gone through all the stages and four cycles of the World Cup. I know how difficult it is to build a team and a group that will compete in the World Cup, and certainly Tite has a very big task to choose the 23 players. So much so that he has called a few new players up and handed them their debuts.

"He shows the experience he has, but at the same time, he has to make his 23 World Cup decisions. We have not played very well, but we are on the way to a good winning path. In a way, this form is also strengthening us. In the case of Argentina in the final of the Copa America, this gives us strength, in some way it creates a stronger shell, you know.

"We are going through all these stages, and I am sure that we will be firm and strong in Qatar. Although we have not yet achieved our main goal mathematically [for qualification], we are very close to that."

Brazil head coach Tite insists too much is expected of Neymar after the superstar forward came in for more criticism following his below-par display against Colombia.

The Selecao's run of nine straight victories in their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign was ended in a stalemate at Estadio Metropolitano on Sunday.

Neymar played the full 90 minutes in Barranquilla but struggled to make an impact in a game of few clear-cut opportunities.

He misplaced 15 passes against Colombia – his highest tally in a game this qualifying campaign – but Tite defended the 29-year-old after the match.

"Neymar was good and so were the whole team," Tite said at his post-match news conference. 

"Maybe he's expected to do exceptional things all the time and make a difference all the time. 

"He's an exceptional player because he produces exceptional moments, but not all the time. He's a different player, we know that.

"But today he was very well-marked, sometimes with two players on him."

 

Neymar's underwhelming performance came on the day in which he revealed the next World Cup could be his third and final one for Brazil.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has scored 69 goals in 114 caps for Brazil since making his senior debut against the United States in August 2010.

Only Pele (77) has found the net on more occasions for the Selecao, while his cap tally is only bettered by Cafu (142), Roberto Carlos (125) and Dani Alves (119).

Neymar has also endured a largely disappointing campaign at club level, having registered just one goal and two assists in seven games for PSG in all competitions.

Brazil's 100 per cent record in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup was finally ended on Sunday as they were held to an underwhelming 0-0 draw away to Colombia.

Tite's men had won all of their first nine matches in the qualification group before coming unstuck in what was a bruising, albeit disappointing, contest in Barranquilla.

Both sides created chances during an even first half, but the finishing was of a low standard as the score remained goalless at the interval.

Even fewer clear-cut opportunities were created after the break

Yerry Mina wasted a glorious chance to give Colombia an early lead when heading just off target, though they had a lucky escape of their own soon after when Lucas Paqueta prodded agonisingly wide from Neymar's throughball.

Brazil's captain played a key role again just after the half-hour mark as he teed up Fred on the edge of the box, but the Manchester United midfielder's subsequent shot was dreadful.

The match became especially scrappy in the second half, with neither goalkeeper called into meaningful action again until the 68th minute when Allison had to push Juan Quintero's 30-yard effort away.

That attempt came as the hosts looked to up the ante in the final half-hour, but some substitutions provided a response from Brazil, with Raphinha and Paqueta both wasting reasonable chances.

Raphinha threatened again five minutes from time as his wonderful cross picked out fellow substitute Antony, and David Ospina produced a decisive save to deny the Ajax talent the winning goal.


What does it mean? Selecao still in control

Thankfully for Tite and Brazil, their excellent form in qualification prior to Sunday has bought them plenty of room for error – even if Argentina win their game in hand, the Selecao will still be six points clear at the top.

Tite might be a little concerned by the creative lull his team experienced for the middle third of the match, though the options he brought on from the bench were proof of that not being a squad-wide issue as Brazil finished the game well.
 
Raphinha sparkles off the bench

After being brought on for the anonymous Gabriel Barbosa just after the hour, Leeds United winger Raphinha was a real nuisance. He completed two of his three dribbles, picked out a wonderful cross for Antony and had more touches in the opposition's box than every other player, highlighting the positivity he brought. Tite might be wise to start him next time.
 
Quintero unable to brew anything special for Los Cafeteros

With James Rodriguez absent, Quintero was the creator Colombia looked to. While he was not exactly quiet, given his six shots was the most of anyone on the pitch, they were all hopeful – and unsuccessful – efforts from distance. That may have been less frustrating if he had been a creative influence as well, but he did not play a single key pass.
 
What's next?

Both teams still have one more match left of this international window. Brazil host Uruguay on Thursday, while Colombia are at home to Ecuador.

Neymar expects next year's World Cup to be his last with Brazil as he believes he is lacking the mental fortitude to deal with football after that.

The Selecao are well on course to book their place in Qatar, topping their World Cup qualifying group with a perfect record of nine wins from nine.

Tite's side are also 13 points clear of fifth-placed Colombia at the halfway mark, with only the top four in the CONMEBOL section guaranteed qualification for the finals.

For Neymar, Qatar would be his third World Cup, having also represented his nation in 2014 and 2018.

Although, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has won the Confederations Cup (2013) and an Olympic gold medal (2016) with the Selecao, he has endured mixed fortunes at the finals.

 

Then of Barcelona, he scored four times when Brazil hosted the event in 2014 but suffered a tournament-ending back injury in the quarter-final victory over Colombia before Luiz Felipe Scolari's side crashed out 7-1 against Germany in the semis.

Neymar then netted twice in Russia four years later but was helpless as his nation were eliminated by Belgium in the last eight.

He will be 34 by the time Canada, Mexico and the United States host the 2026 finals.

And hinting that next year will be his final shot at World Cup glory, the 29-year-old hopes to make it count.

During the making of an exclusive new documentary entitled 'Neymar and The Line of Kings', he told DAZN: "I think it's my last World Cup.

 

"I see it as my last because I don't know if I have the strength of mind to deal with football anymore.

"So, I'll do everything to turn up well; do everything to win with my country, to realise my greatest dream since I was little.

"And I hope I can do it."

Neymar has scored 69 goals in 113 caps for Brazil since making his senior debut against the USA in August 2010.

Only Pele (77) has found the net on more occasions for the Selecao, while his cap tally is only bettered by Cafu (142), Roberto Carlos (125) and Dani Alves (119).

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa scored an 85th-minute penalty as Brazil came from behind to preserve their perfect CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying record with a late 3-1 win at Venezuela.

The Selecao had never lost in 17 previous World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela (W16 D1) – the most Brazil had faced an opponent without defeat – but the South American giants found themselves sensationally trailing at half-time on Thursday.

Eric Ramirez's first international goal had bottom outfit Venezuela dreaming of the unlikeliest of wins in the 11th minute, but Marquinhos equalised in the 71st minute in Caracas.

Gabigol was fouled with five minutes remaining and converted his own spot-kick to guide CONMEBOL leaders Brazil to their ninth win in nine qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, with Antony adding a third goal in the 96th minute.

Brazil made a bright start away to lowly Venezuela, as Gabigol saw effort flash just wide of the post in the seventh minute.

Against the run of play four minutes later, Venezuela claimed a surprise lead thanks to Ramirez.

Yeferson Soteldo charged down the wing and delivered an inch-perfect cross to Ramirez, who made no mistake as he guided his header past Alisson and into the bottom corner of the net.

Ramirez's goal ended Brazil's sequence of six consecutive clean sheets in World Cup qualifying – the longest of any team in the history of the CONMEBOL tournament.

Brazil continued to control proceedings but had nothing to show for it after Everton Ribeiro's shot deflected onto the crossbar in the 22nd minute, evading his team-mates for a tap-in.

Venezuela made it to half-time without conceding but Brazil put the ball in the back of the net 11 minutes into second half.

Fortunately for Venezuela, Thiago Silva's headed goal for Brazil was disallowed due to offside, much to the disappointment of the Selecao.

Venezuela continued to take the game to Brazil as the contest opened up, with the visitors chasing an equaliser, and they did restore parity via Marquinhos' towering header 19 minutes from the end.

Brazil broke Venezuela's hearts during the closing stages after Gabigol – who was tackled from behind as he tried to pounce on Vinicius Junior's rebound – coolly scored from the spot before Antony made it 3-1 with the last kick of the game.

 

What does it mean? No stopping Brazil after scare

Brazil were facing the very real prospect of their first ever qualifying loss to Venezuela before Marquinhos and Gabigol. With it, Brazil extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to 26 matches, dating back to 2015.

Gabigol steps up late

Time after time, Gabigol has showed his quality for Brazilian giants Flamengo. Now, the former Inter forward is performing on the international stage. Gabigol scored his third international goal and first since the 2016 Copa America.

So close but yet so far

Venezuela threatened a boilover on home soil, but the minnows instead were left licking their wounds following a fifth consecutive defeat. Venezuela are winless in 10 matches across all competitions and are bottom of the CONMEBOL standings.

What's next?

Brazil will make the trip to Colombia on Sunday as Venezuela host Ecuador on the same day.

Brazil great Pele said he was "punching the air" after recovering sufficiently to be discharged from hospital on Thursday. 

The three-time World Cup winner underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon and spent time in the intensive care unit at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. 

Pele, who will turn 81 in October, was delighted to be returning home to continue his rehabilitation.

"When the path is difficult, celebrate each step of the journey. Focus on your happiness," Pele wrote in an Instagram post. 

"It's true that I can't jump anymore, but these past few days, I've been punching the air more times than usual. I am so happy to be back at home. 

"I want to thank the entire Albert Einstein Hospital team, who made my stay a pleasant one, with a humane and very affectionate welcome. 

"Thanks also to all of you, who from afar, make my life complete with so many messages of love." 

Pele remains Brazil's all-time leading goalscorer, having found the back of the net 77 times in 92 appearances for his country.   

Brazil have summoned eight Premier League players for October's World Cup qualifiers – and former Middlesbrough star Juninho is hopeful a deal will be struck to avoid more quarantine chaos.

Coach Tite called nine English-based stars for the last batch of internationals at the start of September, but none travelled, with top-flight English clubs refusing to release a number of players travelling to countries on the United Kingdom's travel red list.

Anyone returning from those countries would have been required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status, which was an unacceptable situation for the clubs.

There are hopes that a deal can be struck to allow footballers to travel in bubble conditions, with Juninho pointing to talks involving the Premier League, world football's governing body FIFA and British government officials.

At one point last month it appeared the players who did not join their national teams could be obligated to miss club games, effectively as a punishment, but that threat eventually receded.

Some Premier League players did travel to their national teams, however, and Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, plus Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez, joined up with Argentina. They were then at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to stop the Selecao's game against Argentina proceeding.

Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

The English-based contingent selected by Brazil for October's games includes captain Thiago Silva, goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson, Fred, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. Everton's Richarlison misses out due to a knee injury, but Leeds United's Raphinha and Tottenham's Emerson Royal are in the squad.

Juninho, now a co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, said the players were selected this time because of the belief a solution could be found.

"There have been several meetings with FIFA, the Premier League and the British government," Juninho said, quoted on Brazilian sport website Lance.

"We trust that next week there will be a resolution on these cases."

Brazil travel to play Venezuela on October 7 and Colombia three days later, before a home clash in Manaus against Uruguay on October 14.

The players are due to assemble in Bogota, Colombia, on October 4. Brazil's eight wins from eight have put them firmly at the front of the race to qualify for next year's finals in Qatar.

 

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Danilo (Juventus), Emerson Royal (Tottenham), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Gerson (Marseille), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Edenilson (Internacional); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Antony (Ajax), Raphinha (Leeds United), Gabi (Flamengo), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Pele's daughter has revealed the Brazil legend is "recovering well" amid reports he has been readmitted to intensive care. 

The 80-year-old, Brazil's all-time leading goalscorer, has been in Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Hospital since undergoing surgery to remove a tumour from his colon. 

Pele revealed earlier in the week that he had left intensive care, stating in an Instagram post that he was ready to "play 90 minutes, plus extra time" as he continued his recovery. 

With Brazilian media on Friday reporting he had been readmitted, Kely Nascimento, Pele's daughter, took to social media to offer an encouraging update, along with a picture of her smiling father. 

She wrote: "He's recovering well and within the frame of normal. I promise!" 

Nascimento added: "After a surgery like that, sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back. Yesterday he was tired and stepped back. Today he gave two forwards!" 

The Brazil great is one of just four players to score in four different World Cups and managed 77 goals in 92 appearances for his country before retiring from international duty in 1971. 

European champions Italy are on a world record 37-game unbeaten streak, but they remain lodged at number five in the FIFA rankings.

The world governing body published its new list on Thursday and the only change in the top five saw England jump to third, nudging France down to fourth.

England were runners-up to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, losing on penalties at Wembley after a 1-1 draw, and two wins and a draw from World Cup qualifiers in September have seen Gareth Southgate's team edge ahead of Les Bleus.

It is the first time since 2012 that England have reached the top three, and third place remains the highest position they have achieved in the rankings.

Didier Deschamps' France could only manage two draws and a win in this month's international break, while Italy were held by Bulgaria and Switzerland before landing a 5-0 victory over Lithuania.

Italy have been a roaring success under the leadership of Roberto Mancini, who inherited a team that failed to qualify for the last World Cup and had plummeted to 21st in FIFA's rankings.

They set the record for the most games unbeaten at international level during their run of September games, staying in control as leaders of World Cup European qualifying Group C.

With FIFA's rankings offering significant weighting to World Cup tournament performance, Italy could make a significant leap should their strong form under coach Mancini continue into the Qatar 2022 finals.

Belgium remain top of the FIFA list, with Brazil in second. Copa America winners Argentina stay sixth.

 

Pele remains in hospital but is recovering well after having surgery to remove a tumour from his large intestine.

The Brazil legend, who is one of just four players to score in four different World Cups, has been in Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Hospital since August 31 undergoing routine tests to combat the colon tumour.

Brazil's all-time leading goal scorer released another update on Instagram about his health, following on from his post on Monday that explained he had undertaken surgery.

"My friends, with each passing day I feel a little better," Pele posted on Friday.

"I'm looking forward to playing again, but I'm still going to recover for a few more days.

"While I'm here, I take the opportunity to talk a lot with my family and to rest. Thanks again for all the loving messages. We'll be together again soon!"

Earlier in the week, Argentina captain Lionel Messi overtook Pele as South America's leading goalscorer in men's international football with a hat-trick in Thursday's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia.

Central and South American players who were barred from travelling to World Cup qualifiers by their Premier League teams will be available this weekend after their countries backed down from a request to ban them under FIFA rules. 

Players from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay are cleared to play as their national federations agreed late Friday to waive a measure that would have compelled the players to sit out after their clubs refused to release them for international duty. 

Premier League teams last month decided to prevent players from nations on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 "red list" to participate in Qatar 2022 qualifiers, citing the UK's requirement that people who have travelled to those countries quarantine for 10 days upon their return. 

There had been some indications earlier Friday that the players might be available, but official word did not come down until shortly before midnight London time. 

Brazilians now available to their clubs Saturday include Ederson and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City, Chelsea's Thiago Silva and Manchester United's Fred. 

Among players from other nations involved, Wolves can use Mexico's Raul Jimenez on Saturday, while Newcastle will have Paraguay's Miguel Almiron available, and Watford can play Chile's Francisco Sierralta 

Liverpool will be most relieved, with Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino cleared to face Raphina and Leeds on Sunday. 

Earlier Friday, Jurgen Klopp said at a news conference that he hoped a solution could be reached for the benefit of all parties involved. 

"It is a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs, and the players especially," Klopp said. "We should not forget at this moment that the players wanted to play these games, the clubs wanted to let the players go but it was not possible."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit out at the "farcical" situation that could prevent Brazil international Fred from playing for Manchester United this weekend.

United blocked Fred from joining up with his national side for their triple-leader of September World Cup qualifiers due to Brazil being on the United Kingdom's travel red list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That would mean players having to isolate in a hotel for a minimum of 10 days upon their return, ruling them out for at least three matches.

However, the ​Brazilian Football Confederation has asked FIFA to enforce a law that would block players not released from representing their countries for at least five days.

Should that be the case, Fred will not be available for selection to face Newcastle United on Saturday, although United are still waiting on official confirmation.

Solskjaer has now joined Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, who are also set to be without some key players over the coming days, in calling on FIFA to show some common sense.

"It is a lose, lose, lose situation for everyone, national teams, players, clubs," he said at a pre-match news conference on Friday. "It has been a farce. 

"The players want to play. We know the situation we find ourselves in. We've had to try and find a way, but all the decisions have gone against the players.

"I'm disappointed with the whole thing. We need to prepare without Fred but fingers crossed some sense can come into it and we can use him."

Fred has started all three games for United so far this season and is second only to defender Harry Maguire (152) for successful passes (133), while only Aaron Wan-Bissaka (five) has intercepted the ball more times than the Brazilian (four).

While the 28-year-old's availability remains uncertain, Solskjaer confirmed returning forward Cristiano Ronaldo is in line for his second debut this weekend.

In further good news for United, who have seven points from the first nine on offer, Jadon Sancho is also available despite withdrawing from the England squad with a knock.

"Jadon has come back in with a minor problem but he's trained the last couple of days," Solskjaer said. 

"He's disappointed he couldn't play for England but determined to be fit and he’s available. So that's a positive. 

"The international break, we didn't get anyone injured.

"Luke [Shaw], Harry [Maguire] and Victor [Lindelof] played late on Wednesday night so they've not had a lot of recovery but they will be available, I think."

United have lost just one of their last 36 home league games against Newcastle (W26 D9), with that defeat coming in December 2013 when David Moyes was in charge.

The Red Devils have scored at least once in each of their last 14 Premier League home games, meanwhile, netting 40 times in total (2.9 per game).

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hit out at the "crazy" decision from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to invoke a FIFA suspension for Ederson and Gabriel Jesus.

City duo Ederson and Jesus were – among the majority of other South American players in the Premier League – not released by their clubs for the recent round of World Cup qualifiers on the continent.

Premier League clubs unanimously agreed last month they would refuse to release players called up by nations that are on the British government's travel red list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

All of South America is on this list, and players would have had to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their arrival back in the United Kingdom, leaving them unavailable for at least two league games and next week's European fixtures.

Spurs trio Davinson Sanchez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero nevertheless joined up with Colombia and Argentina respectively, while Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia also travelled, though the Argentine contingent agreed to return early.

However, Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero were at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo last weekend when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to detain the trio, as Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

Explaining his frustration and confusion, Guardiola pointed to this fact after Brazil invoked a FIFA ruling to prevent clubs from fielding the players they did not release.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Leicester City, Guardiola told a news conference on Friday: "Right now it still isn't clear, hopefully they can play, we will wait and see tomorrow if there is some good news. The club didn't inform me of anything. So we are going to wait and see if they can play or not.

"I don't understand the situation for the fact that I don't know what we can do. It's an honour for us that our players go and play for the countries where they are born. It's no problem at all.

"It's difficult to justify for me that the Argentina players who play in the Premier League, they go to Brazil and they were not allowed to play, and the Brazilian players who should have travelled to play this game would have been completely the same.

"So if they travelled there, they wouldn't have been able to play because of the quarantine there. If they do it so they [fly to Brazil] but cannot play in Brazil and after when they came back they could not play here for 10 days. And if they don't fly, then after they are suspended for five days because they were here. So it makes no sense.

"Argentina travelled with some players, the police were on the pitch, and they could not play the game because they didn't follow the protocol.

"So it would have happened with the Brazil players. And after the federation from Brazil asked FIFA to ban these players that cannot travel to play with them, but they could not play there, and now they could not play here? It's crazy."

With Zack Steffen isolating in the United States having tested positive for COVID-19, Guardiola will likely have to call on veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson to make just his second City appearance if Ederson is rendered unavailable – the former England international's only previous outing being in a 4-3 win over Newcastle United back in May, his first top-flight appearance in a decade.

Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick in that match and, after netting twice against Arsenal last time out, has now been involved in six goals in his last six league appearances. 

Jesus, playing on the right of City's front three, has also made a strong start to the season and would be a miss for Guardiola's team. Indeed, the forward has only scored more times against Everton (eight) in the Premier League than he has in meetings with Leicester (five).

Guardiola was at least able to offer positive news on the fitness of Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne.

"Yesterday Phil made the first training session, and Kevin was training alone and then with the players still here," he said. "They're feeling much better."

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