Villa Argentine Duo Selection Situation Leaves Bitter Taste Over International Duty Compromise

Argentine Duo Touch and Go

The fallout continues from Aston Villa reaching a compromise and agreeing to let Argentine duo Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia travel to South America for Argentina’s World Cup qualifying matches.

Dean Smith confirmed in his pre-match press conference for the Everton game that both of Villa’s Argentine internationals were only returning back to the country on the day of Villa’s match against Everton and their participation against the Toffee’s wasn’t guaranteed.

“We’re expecting them to join us tomorrow morning. I’ll assess it then and see whether they’re involved or not,” said Smith.

Hang on a minute.

Broken Compromise

Originally, due to Argentina’s red list Covid-19 country classification and the need for a 10-day quarantine period, the TWO players would have missed three Aston Villa games on their return. This obviously wasn’t an ideal situation for many reasons for the club.

The players understandably wanted to go and serve their country, so the compromise was they would only play the first two of Argentina’s three qualifiers meaning they would be back earlier to do their quarantine period and thus only miss one Villa game.

Since Villa’s compromise with the two players, we’ve been subjected to three pieces of information since the proverbial handshake.

1.The Argentine coach, Lionel Scaloni was quoted as saying:

“We gave the list for the three matches and there’s no doubt about it. The players (Buendía & Martínez) are here for the three matches.”

2. Nobody seemed to have checked the Brazilian quarantine laws when it came to visitors from the UK, which state you have to quarantine for 14-days.

Team Argentina allegedly falsified the documents of their Premier League contingent, including the Villa players, and that’s what lead to the fiasco of the Brazil vs Argentina match being called off by the Brazilian health authorities five minutes into the game (they were late due to the notorious Sao Paulo traffic).

Was this 14-day period not questioned beforehand from the Villa side?

3. Now we have the logistical situation that the two players may actually miss two games after their international misadventure and not the originally announced one.

Surely Villa knew before agreeing to the compromise, when the players would arrive back into the UK and be ready for action? On the day of the game is far from ideal and there shouldn’t be a question over their availability.

Hopefully this is just Villa playing mind games with Everton.

As MOMS stated before the international break, due to the Covid situation, the safer and more logical option considering the uncertainty of the situation would have been to take a hardball approach. Most other clubs did and they also had the backing of the Premier League.

Would Sir Alex Ferguson have thought twice about it, once the Premier League voiced their recommendation for players not to travel?

While you want to do right by your players, the club have also paid huge transfer fees and wages for them to work for the club.

Supporter’s Perspective

From a supporter’s point of view, since we are marketed to as consumers, let’s look at the situation from that point of view.

Firstly this summer, Villans had season tickets and the new home kit sold to them using Jack Grealish as the marketing bait, with the club knowing there was a good chance he would be off.

Season tickets sold on Jack Grealish

Still, as a supporter you’re willing to give the club the benefit of the doubt, as they did get a cool £100m for the player. In many ways you want to galvanise behind the new look team to help them crack on in the new season.

Having already had to turn up this season to games and see players missing due to Covid (let’s be honest, Villa’s record on avoiding Covid isn’t great, considering their supposed bio-secure bubble), it’s now not great then being in a position to be deprived of watching a couple of the top players that certainly lessens the team’s chances of winning a match.

You always feel deflated as a supporter when you see a team sheet with key players missing, so to give them up isn’t ideal.

Catch 22

Some supporters on social media have stated that Villa should let the players go despite them missing games for Villa to keep them happy, so they stay at Villa. This is small-time mentality.

Newsflash – the less games Villa win, the quicker good players leave.

Did they not learn anything from the Grealish situation? No matter what the PR spin is from the player to supporters to keep them happy, ultimately, if Villa don’t get into Europe, Martinez will leave for a Champions League club.

Villa’s chances of getting into Europe diminishes considerably, if Martinez is missing Villa games due to quarantine periods.

Again, look at Grealish. As a key Villa player last season, if he’s missing a third of that season, then Villa were always struggling to get into Europe. If a player isn’t on the pitch helping the club match their personal ambition, then it only ends one way.

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Messy Situation

“It is a mess,” Villa CEO Christian Purslow told the BBC at the start of the month, describing his initial agreement with the Argentine FA as an “amicable and sensible arrangement”.

The Villa CEO rightly went onto declare it’s a situation that needs sorting out before the next international call-up in October, a view since echoed by the likes of Jurgen Klopp.

“We already have a significant congestion issue with World Cup qualifying games in South America,” said Purslow. “So between now and October I really hope to see a sensible arrangement put in place because nobody wants to see a repeat of what happened.”

He went onto suggest that Villa could take a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ stance, which considering what has happened would be the logical approach.

“[It] would make any reasonable club executive feel incredibly nervous about releasing players for overseas travel while we are in the midst of this crisis,” reasoned Purslow.

Certainly, considering it is ultimately the club that pays the price, caution and prioritising the club’s self interest should certainly be the best approach henceforth in terms of the numerous international breaks ahead.


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  1. Spot on. I cannot believe our Captain had to voice his opinion in defence of these players being allowed to go!

  2. In the last Copa America (June/Conmebol) they negotiated special bubble terms for the incoming teams exempting them from quarantine laws current at the time in Brazil (there is also the story of the Liberta tie between Bahia and some Argentinian rubbish, but for another day). These bubble terms are what Argentina *could” have asked for prior to entering Brazil for the tie, but they didn’t – they only made the request on the Saturday or the day of the game and they were knocked back because they’d already broken the law. Ergo, the AFA *may* have told Villa they had or would ask for the exception, and then they forgot/never meant to/wanted to give it the Big I Is because they won their first title in almost 30 years in Maracana, a copa that the Brazilian public cared about so much a majority thought it shouldn’t happen. That said, Villa should have asked for confirmation of the bubble request before Emis travelled.

  3. there were a few matches that Angel flew straight back after playing in SA & got Taxi to ground to play for Villa

  4. What a mess, Martnez and Buendia should never have been allowed to go in the first place, going to red listed countries should surely have set alarm bells ringing, and if COVID restrictions wasn’t enough the Premier League recommendations were also ignored, the players should not have been allowed to dictate what would happen in this situation, it had disaster written all over it and now they will almost certainly miss the Everton game. We the Villa need to toughen up before the next break, letting Grealish go was meant to show we are not a one man team this should be emphasised to the whole team, we pay the wages and dictate the conditions and if you don’t like it you know where the door is.

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