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Arsenal have told their overseas players they will not be allowed to travel home to their families after the decision of the club not to return to training. The Gunners’ 14-day self-isolation period ended today since Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Over 100 members of the first-team squad and staff were told to stay at home for two weeks following the shock news.
But a statement from a club spokesperson yesterday declared that it would be “inappropriate and irresponsible” for the players to return to their London Colney training base.
Instead, the first-team, women’s and academy players will all remain at home for the foreseeable future.
An announcement later in the day from Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the United Kingdom would be going into lockdown for three weeks.
The stricter measures, designed to tackle the spread of the deadly virus, will be enforced by the police with a ban on gatherings of more than two people and exercise also limited.
But the club have imposed a travel ban on their players, with it having been suggested some may have been keen to fly back home to their families.
Arsenal’s European stars could not go home anyway due to restrictions already in place affecting Germany, France and Spain.
But South American quartet David Luiz, Lucas Torreira, Gabriel Martinelli and Emiliano Martinez have been told they cannot go back across the Atlantic.
Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have less than 2,500 confirmed cases and a total of 38 deaths combined – compared to nearly 7,000 and over 300 deaths in the UK – although the real number of cases everywhere is thought to be higher.
Worldwide, there have been almost 400,000 confirmed cases and more than 16,000 deaths.
An Arsenal source said: “It has been made clear no one will be allowed to fly.
“At a time when people are being urged to stay at home, it is important we set an example.
“Now is not the right time for the players to train together.”
Arsenal’s travel ban comes after Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil duo Neymar and Thiago Silva flew home last week, as did Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.
That was before the country’s capital of Paris was put on lockdown in response to the global pandemic.
PSG gave their players the authorisation to leave France and self-isolate wherever they chose to.
London has since followed suit and Arsenal’s players will be required to keep fit using equipment sent to them by the club.
The Premier League is not due to return before April 30 and as things stand, the government’s COVID-19 aesponse means teams cannot return to training until at least April 14.
The UK’s lockdown may well be extended however, depending on how shutting all but essential shops – such as food stores and pharmacists – affects the number of cases.
Tthe Premier League faces a tight timeline if they want to kick off the 2020-21 campaign on August 8 as scheduled.
The current season could be resumed on June 1 to give six weeks of space to conclude it, with Euro 2020 having been pushed back a year by UEFA in order to allow domestic leagues to finish.
It is widely expected the current season will be concluded behind closed doors, if indeed it is completed.