For four weeks, starting January 2022, a number of Premier League players of African descent will not be available for their clubs. The premier international competition in the CAF region, the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) takes place at that time. Being one of the top leagues in the world, it is expected nations will call up their players playing in the league.
It is expected teams will beef up ahead of the winter break to try and cover for the period but these definitely will be only short-term solutions, especially for the teams whose players could go all the way to the final stages of the competition. There’s also the risk of injury as players get to play in surfaces that may not be of the same standards as that in the Premier League.
In short, this is the toughest period for managers and clubs, having to release key players in midseason and see them off for a whole month, with the FA Cup also lined up at the time.
As the AFCON 2021 approaches SportyTrader is expected to have the predictions and previews, with Senegal and Algeria, the finalists in 2019 deemed the early favorites while Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria will also be looking to rise up the ladder.
So, which Premier League players will be away and which teams will be affected the most?
Four teams do not have an African player at the moment; these are Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United, Newcastle United and Norwich City FC. These sides will not be affected by the movement back to Africa for the competition.
However, Watford will not be very happy with the timing of the competition, with five of their players set to get call ups for their nations and these are nations expected to stay long in the tournament.
Arsenal and Crystal Palace will be the next among the most affected; they have four players each heading to the competition and these happen to be key players for their national teams. Aston Villa, Liverpool and Leicester City have three players each.
Here‘s the list:
Arsenal: Thomas Partey (Ghana), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt).
Aston Villa: Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Trezeguet (Egypt)
Brentford: Franck Onyeka (Nigeria), Tariq Fosu (Ghana).
Brighton: Yves Bissouma (Mali)
Burnley: Maxwell Cornet (Ivory Coast)
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy (Senegal), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal).
Everton: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)
Leicester City: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria) Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana).
Liverpool: Sadio Mane (Senegal), Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Naby Keita (Guinea).
Manchester City: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Manchester United: Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast), Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Southampton: Moussa Djenepo (Mali), Mohamed Salisu (Ghana).
Watford: William Troost Ekong (Nigeria), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal), Imran Louza (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco), Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria).
West Ham United: Said Benrahma (Algeria)
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wily Boly (Ivory Coast), Romain Saiss (Morocco)