Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is complaining about the fact that Ryan Babel may be called up to the Dutch national team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. While it's understandable that he doesn't want to risk further damage to a key Liverpool player just coming back from injury, Benitez's comments raise some interesting points.
"It's a big problem. We prepare him and then he goes with the national team," Benitez is quoted as saying. This seems a bizarre statement to make, yet more managers (particularly in the Premier League) seem to be using similar words.
Frankly, it's getting tiresome.
It's called being an international player
When a team signs a player of Babel's quality, it's with the knowledge that he could be called up for his national team. While I feel that manager's have a point when it's just a friendly match (I'm of the belief that these types of games should be for experimenting with young talent), I don't see the argument for full internationals.
Jose Mourinho always complained about the African Cup of Nations, as did (to a lesser extent) Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth. But if you buy a lot of African players then you should expect to lose them to their most important tournament.
Managers need to realize that buying quality also means buying someone that you could lose to their national team for certain periods of time. Unless they want to start buying players from the lower leagues, then the likes of Benitez et al should get on with more important things—like getting the best out of an under-performing team.