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Recently, Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne joined the growing list of footballers to strongly criticise the UEFA Nations League for piling on to the unrelenting football calendar with several competitive fixtures this month.
Ultimately, fans of all clubs widely supported the Manchester City talisman and vice captain's rightful criticism, as his services were demanded for Belgium against the likes of the Netherlands, Poland and Wales in back-to-back matches after coming off the back of a taxing 45-game season for his club.
However, the Genk academy graduate is clearly not one to shy away from speaking his mind, as he explained the various drawbacks of the international competition that came to inception in September 2018.
“With the Nations League, I can understand why you want to eliminate the friendly games, but sometimes it is also a good chance for other players to get an opportunity”, he stated, as quoted by Tom Collomosse of the Mail.
The 30-year old continued, “I feel playing the Nations League for a lot of countries gives less opportunity (to fringe players) because the tournament feels a little bit more important than it actually is. Then maybe other guys can get a break.”
Kevin De Bruyne highlights a largely underreported aspect of how the competitive nature of the Nations League leads to back-up players not getting adequate chances on international duty, which is a major change from when managers used to have the opportunity of assessing his entire squad’s performances in one-off friendlies.
It is due to this very aspect that senior players such as the midfield maestro virtually become guaranteed starters in every possible fixture, as highlighted by the fact that he played 240 out of a possible 285 minutes in Belgium’s last three matches.
Setting such a precedent takes away from the much-discussed goal of enhancing player welfare, which only makes Kevin De Bruyne’s criticism about the competition ring truer by the day.
Thankfully, De Bruyne was released by Belgium prior to the final fixture of four this week, and will now enter his three-week holiday period ahead of Manchester City's pre-season training camp and preparations matches before the 2022/23 season.
Pep Guardiola's side will head to the United States for a pre-season tour that will include matches against Club America and Bayern Munich, before returning to England to take on Liverpool in the FA Community Shield - which has been scheduled to take place at Leicester's King Power Stadium this year.
Featured Image Credit: Sebastian Frej / Alamy
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