Monday Musings – UEFA Nations League and international friendlies

With the modern soccer/football player already playing upwards of 50 games a season (Barcelona played 59 competitive matches and Liverpool played 56). Players playing in teams outside the Premier League have been greater demands, for example, Ben Livermore will play 46 league games in the Championship for West Bromwich Albion and players from Middlesbrough could have played up to 54 with only marginal showings to the fourth round in only the EFL/FA Cup.
This topic has been hotly debated in the past because of “needless international friendlies”. So in response, UEFA has come up with the Euros and the Nations League which are supposed have precedence over “domestic leagues” as they are now competitive match fixtures. In addition to making them into competitive matches there is, of course, prize money involved now, but when is too much?
I know it’s an honor to represent your county, but it’s also one more opportunity for injury. Take Luke Shaw for example, he has a horrendous injury record, he’s finally on the mend and is playing phenomenally for the first team. Enter the international break in September, where this happens. Shaw has since posted on twitter that he is “ok”, but we’re creating a culture where there is no such thing as a friendly.
Major European clubs have been coming to the states for years as part of the International Champions Cup — and while the European teams (in preseason) don’t take them as seriously as the American teams (in season), even those “friendlies” have a trophy awarded at the end. And while they might not have prize money per say, organizers pay 8-figure appearance fees to some of the teams to show up. That places serious expectations on a return on investment.
The question then is this… when does it stop? When can a youth player be given a casual opportunity to play for his country without bearing the weight of a competitive tournament or match? When have we exhausted international friendlies to the point that someone needs to say, enough. There’s a possibility to add an additional 10 matches to a top class players schedule moving them to the range of nearly 70 games. Have we gone too far?
That’s all for my MondayMusings today folks, I’d love to hear your feedback on the International scene though!
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