Pep Guardiola says Manchester City's players should not return to pre-season training until they are totally ready due to the "crazy scheduling of modern football.
The likes of Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi featured deep into this summer’s Copa America, while Riyad Mahrez’s season ended only last week with Algeria’s victory in the Africa Cup of Nations.
City are currently on their pre-season tour of Asia, while their season gets underway as early as August 4 with the Community Shield against Liverpool – a match which could set the tone for what looks set to be another incredibly close-fought season.
“Some of them will come on the 29th or 30th; the others will come in three or four weeks,” Guardiola said.
“They decide to come back between three or four weeks. I don’t want them to come back when they’re not fit or tired or mentally not recovered from an incredibly tough season.
“We cannot forget we started a new season while Riyad Mahrez had not finished the last one.
“It’s a crazy schedule and it is going to kill our players! We cannot sustain that for a long time.
“They have to breathe and rest and give more quality in the tournaments. They have to rest.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed similar concerns, particularly surrounding forward Sadio Mane after his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations.
After reaching the Champions League quarter-finals and lifting both domestic cups, City played 61 games between August 5 and May 18 last season – an average of more than a game every five days over a 10-month period, with a World Cup beforehand and further international tournaments to follow.
Despite the strain, some squad members have been eager to get back into training earlier than scheduled, and Guardiola joked that this was because they were simply so keen to see him.
“Some people want to come back a little bit earlier because they want to come back and they are more than welcome,” he said.
“I like it! The manager creates incredible training sessions! That’s why they want to come back earlier!
“They know to come back because the standard rises every season. They know that if they want to play, they will have to be fit. If not, another team-mate is going to play.”
City’s pre-season schedule continues on Wednesday with a game against Hong Kong side Kitchee, before the final game of their Asian tour against Japan’s Yokohama FM on Saturday.
Most recently, they lost the Asia Trophy final on penalties to Wolves, following a 4-1 semi-final win over West Ham.