Kevin De Bruyne ‘not looking forward’ to Nations League as he slams ‘glorified friendlies’

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 (BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
(BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Kevin De Bruyne has slammed the disregard for player welfare as the end of the club season is marked by an immediate switch to international football.

Just a few days after the Champions League final was played in Paris, the Nations League, a tournament created by UEFA to replace friendlies with competitive matches, returns to the calendar.

Belgium face Holland on Friday night in the first of four fixtures in the space of 11 days, while England play the same number of matches in a ten-day spell.

It comes at the end of a hectic season, in which De Bruyne has already made 53 appearances for club and country, and the Manchester City admitted he had no interest in the upcoming matches as he questioned the scheduling.

“For me, the Nations League is not important,” De Bruyne said.

“We have to play these games, but it feels like a campaign of friendly games. Just glorified friendlies after a long and tough season. I’m not looking forward to it.

“In 12 months we have three weeks of holiday. The people from the outside do not understand how a player feels after a season. But they don’t have to because it won’t change anything. It doesn’t even matter to mention it, nothing will change anyway.”

One man very much on De Bruyne’s side in the debate over the Nations League is Jurgen Klopp, who has repeatedly criticised the tournament’s introduction and the added strain it has put on players.

Liverpool played in every possible club match this season, with the Champions League final their 63rd game of the season, and the Reds boss hit out at the refusal to give players a sufficient break over the summer.

Klopp said: “The reason why I’m not in such a good mood when I speak about Uefa is the Nations League – I still think it is one of the most ridiculous ideas in the world of football.

“We now finish a season where players play more than 70 games easily. Club games 63, 64 plus international stuff which takes them to 75, which is really mad. And we continue with Nations League games with the national teams.”

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