Are Premier League players scared to return to football?

With Premier League officials meeting this week to restart the postponed season, there has been growing concern among certain players about having to play football at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

In particular, it’s the Manchester City star striker Sergio Aguero who has been most vocal about the current concerns. The 31-year Argentine legend went on record as saying,’The majority of players are scared because they have family and children.

So will the Premier League listen to Aguero’s reservations, or is the football league desperate to get the players back on the pitch at any cost?

The current state of play

The Premier League 2019/20 season has been suspended since 13 March with 92 fixtures left to play. This Friday saw the league’s officials meeting in a bid to try and restart the season on 8 June.

This is a contrast to other European leagues such as France’s Ligue 1. It was announced that Ligue 1 would not resume, and Paris Saint Germain were awarded the title as the club were 12 points clear at the top of the table.

If the Premier League was to restart in June, then players would have to be back in training from 18 May. These training sessions would take place in conditions designed to enforce social distancing and personal hygiene. As such, players would have to wear masks at all times, and they would have to arrive at the training grounds in full kit.

Already Premier League clubs such as Arsenal, West Ham and Brighton have opened their training grounds for individual players. This comes less than a month after Tottenham’s manager Jose Mourinho and players like Tanguy Ndombele were reprimanded for having a secret training session on Hadley Common in London.

Evaluating players’ concerns

Sergio Aguero isn’t the only Premier League player to express his concerns about the plans to restart the English football season. The Brighton forward Glenn Murray also expressed reservations about the wearing of face masks saying that, ‘Face masks is going to be off-putting’.

In addition to this, the former Chelsea doctor, Eva Carneiro, has said that, ‘It only takes one case for it to blow up.’ Ever since Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta became one of the first major victims of the pandemic, there has been little willingness to risk more players and managers becoming infected.

While some Premier League stars like Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and Everton’s Moise Kean have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons as a result of their lax approach to social distancing, it seems that players with families are far more reluctant to get back on the pitch.

What’s clear is that the Premier League is desperate to break the gridlock as soon as possible. League officials have stated that they are willing to hold the remaining matches behind closed doors if necessary. Plus with suggestions that even next season’s matches could be played behind closed doors, it looks like the next few years of football are going to look very strange indeed.

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