Football clubs are not keen on signing players who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19

Several of European football’s top clubs are reported to have ruled out signing players who remain unvaccinated against Covid-19, according to reports from UK media. 

The report, which was published in The Telegraph, comes amid news that Chelsea midfield duo N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were left in London ahead of the club’s pre-season tour of the United States “due to their vaccination status”  – with fears growing within football that various unvaccinated players may be refused entry to certain countries if strict Covid-19 rules are reintroduced later this year.

The United States, for example, currently requires all entrants to the country be vaccinated on arrival, with speculation suggesting that this was the cause of Kante and Loftus-Cheek’s no-show ahead of the Chelsea’s pre-season obligations.

According to the report, an unnamed source is quoted as saying that the “phone calls stop immediately”  when a club is told that a potential transfer target is not vaccinated against Covid-19, drying up their marketability amongst several of Europe’s top teams.

A specific player’s profile may lead to circumstances where this unwritten rule is not observed but it is understood clubs are fearful that an unvaccinated player could be forced to miss games and training sessions in future, particularly if there is another large-scale outbreak of the virus this winter.

Domestic football in both France and Italy requires footballers to be vaccinated, with only rare exceptions against the rule being permitted.

The implications on the transfer market could lead to some high profile players being unable to find new clubs, with some speculating that it could lead to some footballers being forced to drop down a division – and even take a considerable pay cut to continue their careers.

The absence of the Chelsea pair (and in particular Loftus-Cheek, one suspects) from the club’s training tour of the U.S. could impact his career both at Stamford Bridge, as well as with any potential transfer suitors he may have – given that the England international is understood to be available for transfer this summer.

But speaking last year after the apparently unvaccinated Kante contracted Covid-19, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel suggested that decisions like this rest with the individual player and not with their clubs.

“It would be easy to say [players should send the public a positive example and get vaccinated] now and get maybe applause from a lot of people,”  said the German.

“But at the same time do I have the right to say it? I’m not so sure. I can make the decision for myself, and everybody else needs to reflect about it and take a risk or not. I think it’s a serious question and vaccination seems to be a proper protection.

“I am vaccinated. But I don’t really see myself in a position to speak out proper recommendations. I think that would go too far. I’m a football coach, I’m not a 100 per cent expert in this and I would leave it up to them. Everybody is adult enough and everybody lives in a free country, which is a good thing.” 

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