Between friendlies, international competitions and World Cup qualifiers, the summer will provide anything but a break for a number of Premier League stalwarts.ST. LOUIS -- European clubs relish the opportunity to come to the United States during the offseason to promote their brands and and earn a nice payday for their efforts in playing friendlies.
With Chelsea and Manchester City set to play this week at both Busch Stadium and Yankee Stadium, a question arises: What is the cost to their players' well-being?
For Chelsea, Brazilians David Luiz and Oscar have already been confirmed to participate in next month's FIFA Confederations Cup. Juan Mata and Manchester City's David Silva are fully expected to be part of Spain's squad. Yet here they are, playing in a pair of exhibition games halfway across the world just days after a rigorous season -- one in which Chelsea played 69 games across all competitions -- came to an end.
"Now we are still focused on playing football. Now it's time to enjoy it here in the States, try to enjoy these two friendly games," Mata said Wednesday night prior to Chelsea's training session at Busch Stadium. "Hopefully I will rest in July. For me, the most important thing is to be part of that squad, of the national team, and then have time to rest after."
It's not as if July provides an open calendar for Mata and his Chelsea teammates, though. The Blues are slated for a preseason trip to Asia, with three games to be played on July 17, 21 and 25. With the next Premier League season set to kick off in the third week of August, that does not leave a whole lot of opportunity for down time, and with Spain expected to reach the 2014 World Cup to defend its title, next summer won't be any more relaxing for players like Mata and Silva.
"We have to be professionals and do everything to do our job well," said Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, who is also expected to play against teammate Eden Hazard and City's Vincent Kompany in June's Serbia-Belgium World Cup qualifier.
England manager Roy Hodgson was none too pleased with Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham (which is playing Jamaica in the Bahamas Thursday) scheduling long trips so soon after the season and so close to England's upcoming friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, skewering the teams for their decisions.
"We've been scotched a little bit by the teams who decided to go on long close-season tours," Hodgson told reporters in the UK upon the release of his latest roster. "It's made the first match a little bit difficult, because some of the players will only have been back a few days when we've got to play, and also we're scotched in that all the teams have decided to go far west to America and Bahamas, so they're going backward and forward on these long journeys. But that's again the situation we find ourselves in. We can't dictate to clubs what they do."