It isn’t long before the African Cup of Nations takes precedence for a number of the best players from that continent that ply their trade in Europe’s top leagues.
For instance, Liverpool are almost certainly going to be hugely impacted by having Sadio Mane and Mo Salah missing, potentially for a few weeks.
The Reds’ issues will be replicated at clubs elsewhere, and not everyone is too happy about it.
Given that AFCON can’t be played in the heat of the African summer, the organisers really have no other choice than to play it in January.
Unfortunately, that means it disrupts the majority of leagues and Metz coach, Frederic Antonetti, has really let rip with his feelings.
“The AFCON takes seven or eight players from us. That’s enormous. It’s a rigged, distorted game,” he said, reported by L’Equipe and cited by Get French Football News.
“How can we have international competitions during national competitions? It’s not workable. I have nothing against the AFCON, it’s a very good event, but you can’t remove that many players from a team. And we’re not the only ones.
“When we built our squad, the AFCON was set to be played in June but they’ve changed the rules. When I say it’s rigged, everything is rigged in football…
“It’s a shame because everything is distorted and rigged and the AFCON is part of it, VAR is part of it, the pressure is part of it.”
Such vehement language is bound to get him in trouble with the authorities, even if he has a point.
He’d likely find solidarity with Jurgen Klopp and others, who are negatively impacted by the tournament being played when it is, though it’s doubtful they’d ever express themselves in the same manner.
Metz are currently third from bottom of the Ligue Un table, and on the same points as second bottom Lorient.
The club are already in a hugely precarious situation and so, perhaps Antonetti’s ire is understandable if ill-advised.