The club-versus-country row has been ongoing for a number of years now and it is no secret that domestic managers are completely against their players overdoing it for their country. It appears Roberto Di Matteo is part of this brigade, stating that the upcoming Olympics are not ideal for his squad as he prepares for a first full season in charge at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have several players involved for their respective teams in London, with Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand preparing to represent Team GB while Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu are part of Spain’s squad. There is still some doubt over Sturridge’s involvement, with the former Manchester City man still in hospital undergoing tests for suspected meningitis. However, should the duo play, it would be two more players that will not have had a full summer of recoupment after the European Championships last month.
However, that will not be Di Matteo’s main concern. The Olympics occur right in the middle of pre-season, meaning that players who are involved are not going to have a full campaign of preparation ahead of the new season. While he says that the event is a great opportunity for players, he also concedes that it is not ideal. He said, “As a manager, you would like to have them with you in pre-season, but it is the Olympic Games and players will want to be involved with it. Pre-season is very important for the players to put the foundation in for the season. It is a bit disrupted by the European Championship and the Olympics, and it will be towards the end of July or the beginning of August before we have the whole squad together.”
Juan Mata is undoubtedly the player most affected this summer, with the midfielder representing Spain in both the European Championships and the Olympics. It remains to be seen if he will be fresh enough to start the new Premier League campaign.