When the major international tournaments come around, it’s only right that the best players for each country are given the opportunity to extend their legend.
With a team like Barcelona, however, that can often be to the detriment of the club.
Unable to stop their employees from taking part in friendlies, qualifiers and then the summer showpieces, injuries and fatigue have become part and parcel.
Now that there’s more pressure than ever on the players at the club being able to deliver a longed-for Champions League, there’s a need for them to be at their sharpest for the entirety of a league campaign.
Messi again very quiet tonight , hasn’t performed well at all during this Copa America. Looks very tired from the season just past. Needs a break good to see others around him take responsibility and step up #ARGVEN— Josh Bunting (@Buntingfootball) June 28, 2019
However, we’ve seen on more than one occasion in the recent past that this hasn’t been the case and that’s unforgivable.
Even if you take into account that the player is somewhat stuck in the middle of the club and country fight, surely his loyalties lie with the people who pay his weekly wage?
The Copa America semi-finals are on the horizon, and all of Messrs. Coutinho, Messi, Arthur and Vidal will be playing a part.
Win or lose, that means they’ll also either be in the third/fourth place play off or the final, the latter of which is just one week before Barcelona’s 2019/20 pre-season officially begins.
Of course they’ll get extra time off, but the tour of Japan follows just a fortnight after that, and all of the big names will be expected to play.
Arthur has been struggling to play a complete match throughout his debut season at the Camp Nou, and probably needed a rest, Coutinho, perhaps needed the games to get his confidence back.
Arturo Vidal is getting no younger, and Messi hasn’t really stopped playing over the last few years. Ditto Luis Suarez (although he now has a week longer to recover).
The Copas in 2015 and 2016 came after the 2014 World Cup, meaning the only summer respite Barca’s two most senior players have had came during the 2017 summer break.
Messi himself has admitted that he hasn’t had the best tournament in 2019, and that could be put down to tiredness as much as anything else.
Suarez has done better than his club colleague, but he had a pretty poor end to his league campaign.
Maybe the notion of signing both Neymar and Antoine Griezmann isn’t that fanciful after all, and there’s a more practical element to their arrivals.
We’re constantly told that a decent amount of rest is as important as exercise, and yet that’s the one thing that’s always on the back burner when we hit summer time.
If Ernesto Valverde doesn’t manage his rotation correctly again, might this come back to haunt us once more at the end of the upcoming season?