Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has criticised at the “crazy” fixture list endured by players in the Premier League.
The Spain international has highlighted the timing of this year’s 2022 World Cup as a big factor, citing it as a risk to player welfare.
The tournament – which kicks off on the 20th November – has led to a crammed fixture list at the start of this Premier League season; and the effects are already starting to be felt, with many big name players already ruled out of the tournament due to injury.
“It’s difficult and sad, because as players you want to go to the World Cup, but we have this schedule where we have to play for our club and do our best. We are fighting a lot for player welfare because the schedule is crazy,” said the Blues defender.
Azpilicueta’s Chelsea side have struggled with injuries this season, with key figures Reece James and N’golo Kante set to miss the World Cup.
“Sometimes we have to consider everything and I think we are in conversations with FIFA. It’s difficult because I understand that the fans want to see football. We have five subs now but we have in our team a couple of injuries that make it difficult to rotate. We are playing every few days but it is how it is and we have to step up.”
With England’s Euros stars Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker, Portugal’s Diogo Jota, and France’s Raphael Varane also set to miss out, there is a growing concern that the quality on display at this year’s tournament will be diminished due to player absence and fatigue.
Player welfare has long been discussed by managers such as Jurgen Klopp when discussing the congestion in the football schedule.
His Liverpool side played 63 games last season, and with this year’s Premier League starting early to make space for the winter World Cup in Qatar, his side have struggled to maintain the form this year that took them to the brink of a quadruple last term.
Klopp’s men currently sit 8th in the Premier League table, with just 16 points from 11 games.
Meanwhile Chelsea’s busy schedule continues this week as they head to Austria to face RB Salzburg on Tuesday before being hosted by Brighton in the league on Saturday.
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