The Africa Cup of Nations will begin in January but Premier League clubs will have to release their players in December as the likes of Mo Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubemyang and Edouard Mendy all leave to represent their countries
The Africa Cup of Nations will see a host of Premier League players head off for over a monthBySamuel Meade
- 06:30, 22 Oct 2021
The Africa Cup of Nations is set to hamper Premier League clubs up and down the country in and around the New Year.
The continental tournament is always held midway through the season and sees established stars head away for a number of weeks.
Around 40 players will depart after the games on Boxing Day with some not returning until the second week of February.
Premier League clubs have contested the laws around players jetting off to represent their nations during the pandemic, but any hopes of keeping their players for the entirety of the Festive period looks slim.
FIFA rules state “players must be released and start travel to their representative team no later than Monday morning the week preceding the week when the relevant final competition starts.”
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The African Cup of Nations officially begins on January 9 and concludes on February 6.
Cameroon kick off the tournament against Burkina Faso which means December 27 – 13 days previous – is the date players will be leaving their clubs.
A heavily stocked schedule means team's with players whose countries go deep into the tournament may miss up to eight games across the Premier League and FA Cup.
There is an apparent grey area, based on certain nations beginning their tournament after the official January 9 start dates.
In those circumstances there is hope that agreements can be met which could see players stay for an extra day or two, which in some cases may be crucial.
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However the Athletic have been told by a leading African nation that FIFA's rules regarding player release dates will be followed.
A source at the Nigeria Football Federation said: “It will be very difficult to make any exceptions."
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will represent Egypt and Senegal respectively, which will leave the Reds light in attack.
Jurgen Klopp will be without the duo for festive games at Leicester and Chelsea – played across the space of five days.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester will also lose key players for the duration of the tournament.
The Blues will see Edouard Mendy leave in what is a major blow whilst the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Thomas Partey, Wilfred Ndidi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will all jet off.
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Mikel Arteta will therefore have to endure a game with Manchester City and a north London derby minus some of his leading lights.
The Foxes meanwhile could be without Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho for both their games with Liverpool, such is the proximity of the two fixtures.
The African Cup of Nations was due to have be played at the same time as the delayed Euro 2020 in the summer, but climate concerns and the affect of the pandemic saw it pushed back.
Here is a list of the players who could be called up by their nations.
Thomas Partey (Ghana)
Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
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Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt)
Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)
Julian Jeanvier (Guinea)
Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)
Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)
Yves Bissouma (Mali)
Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
Edouard Mendy (Senegal)
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
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Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)
Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
Kelechi Iheanacho will head off to represent Nigeria
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Daniel Amartey (Ghana)
Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Naby Keita (Guinea)
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)
Crystal Palace will have to do without Wilfried Zaha
AFP via Getty Images)
Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)
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Peter Etebo (Nigeria)
William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
Adam Masina (Morocco)
Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria)
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Romain Saiss (Morocco)
Willy Boly (Ivory Coast)
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Comment MORE ON Hakim ZiyechMohamed SalahPremier LeagueAfrica Cup of NationsSadio ManePierre-Emerick AubameyangLiverpool FCManchester United FCManchester City FCArsenal FCChelsea FCTottenham Hotspur FCAston Villa FCLeicester City FCWolverhampton Wanderers FCLeeds United FCWest Ham United FCEverton FCBrighton and Hove Albion FCWatford FCCrystal Palace FCNorwich City FCBrentford FCBurnley FCNewcastle United FCSouthampton FC
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