There was welcome news for Mohamed Salah‘s (£12.5m) prospective owners in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) when it was revealed that Liverpool have refused permission for the Egyptian to represent his country at this summer’s Olympic Games.
Egypt wanted to name Salah as one of three ‘overage’ players for this under-24 tournament, which runs from July 22 until August 7 – the final taking place less than a week before the start of the Premier League season.
The president of the Egyptian FA, Ahmed Megahed, suggested that Salah had wanted to be involved:
I knew in June they would not let him go. Anyway we respect their decision.
I tried many, many times with Liverpool, as did the Egypt FA, to persuade them to let Salah be a part of the Olympic team but they refused completely.
Mohamed wanted to play the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. He talked with me, I did my best to bring him. Salah was a key player in my Olympic plans. But the club refused – we need to move on.
Clubs are not obliged to release their players for this tournament as it is not officially recognised on FIFA’s match calendar.
But a number of Premier League players look set to be involved, despite their employers not being compelled to grant permission.
While the FPL assets in Olympics action should still all be back in the UK by the time that 2021/22 gets underway (barring any quarantine period) and should theoretically be at least as match-fit as their club colleagues, the fact that their pre-season campaigns would have been affected with their domestic teams – e.g. missing out on tactical drills – could have an impact come Gameweek 1.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYERS INVOLVED AT THE OLYMPICS
Chris Wood (£7.0m) will hook up with New Zealand in the Far East, along with West Ham United’s Winston Reid (£4.0m).
Wood had his best-ever season for FPL points in 2020/21, scoring on 12 occasions and setting up a further three goals.
Depending on the Kiwis’ progress into the tournament, two of Burnley’s trio of £5.5m forwards – Matej Vydra, Ashley Barnes and Jay Rodriguez – could well be given the nod against Brighton and Hove Albion on the opening weekend.
The Seagulls’ Alexis Mac Allister (£5.5m) will be representing Argentina, meanwhile.
The Manchester United duo of Eric Bailly (£5.0m) and Amad Diallo are also set to be involved with the Ivory Coast.
Apart from Wood, the headline news from a Fantasy perspective is Richarlison’s (£7.5m) call-up by Brazil.
The Everton forward, who had also represented his country in the Copa America this summer, has been granted permission to take part in the Olympic Games by the Toffees.
Richarlison has been away in South America since the beginning of June and, should Brazil go deep into the Olympics, will barely have had any rest by the time 2021/22 kicks off.
Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz (£4.5m) is in a similar boat, having been selected for both aforementioned international tournaments.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Rafael Benitez and Dean Smith follow Jurgen Klopp’s lead in giving their international players three weeks off.
Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli (£5.5m) will also be joining Luiz and Richarlison in Japan, although Gabriel Magalhães (£5.0m) has withdrawn through injury.
The other Premier League representatives at the Olympic Games are Brighton and Hove Albion’s Tudor Baluta, Everton’s Niels Nkounkou, Crystal Palace’s Jay Rich-Baghuelou, Southampton’s Caleb Watts and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Rafa Mir, none of whom are listed in FPL.
OLYMPIC GAMES – FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
- Group stage: Matchday 1 – July 22
- Group stage: Matchday 2 – July 25
- Group stage: Matchday 3 – July 28
- Quarter-finals – July 31
- Semi-finals – August 3
- Bronze medal match – August 6
- Gold medal match – August 7
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