Joao Moutinho has hit back at Kevin De Bruyne after the Manchester City star’s criticism of the UEFA Nations League.

Less than two weeks after the domestic season ended, the Premier League’s stars face a packed month of international fixtures as the Nations League gets underway. The tournament effectively replaces international friendlies in an effort to place more importance on games.

After a long season, there has been some criticism of the number of games being played. De Bruyne is among those to have shared his displeasure, having hit out at the amount of time off afforded to players.

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The City star will be in action until mid-June, before reporting back for pre-season with the Blues in July, giving him just a month away from football. The Belgium international, who will be in action for his national side against the Netherlands on Friday, has taken issue with the additional games.

“For me, the Nations League is unimportant,” De Bruyne said. “We have to play those matches, but it’s a kind of practice campaign.

“Everyone has had a very tough season. As soon as we are on the field, we do what we have to do. Then I want to win. Other than that, I don’t have much to say about it.

“We have nothing to say about it. As players, we can talk about vacation or rest, but we have no say. We follow what we need to do and that’s it.

“We have a little more than three weeks of vacation every 12 months. The outsiders don’t understand how a player feels after a season. It doesn’t have to be, in the end it won’t change anyway. Nor is there any point in saying anything about it. Nothing will change anyway.”

Wolves midfielder Moutinho has hit back at De Bruyne. The Portugal international insists the Nations League remains an important competition, particularly for his side.

“All the games we play here, and I speak for the group, we look at it with the same importance, whether it’s a friendly, qualifying or the Nations League,” Moutinho said. “It is an important competition that we have already won once and we want to reach the final four and try to win it again.”

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