Premier League stars set to miss up to eight games during AFCON
The Africa Cup of Nations will kick off 2022 with a bang as the continent's brightest stars collide.
Up to 39 players representing 16 different Premier League clubs will travel to Cameroon to represent their countries.
The selection of multiple top talents for AFCON 2021 has caused some concern for parent clubs — as those who progress to the latter stages could miss up to six weeks of the domestic season.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Edouard Mendy are among the Premier League absentees as the best of Africa compete for glory.
The tournament officially starts on January 9 and concludes on February 6 — however, clubs will have to release their players after the Boxing Day fixtures.
This means some players may miss a total of eight games across the Premier League and FA Cup should their countries reach the final.
Liverpool are just one club who have been in talks with nations participating in the tournament in the hopes of releasing some of their key players later than initially expected.
Key Premier League games during AFCON 2021
Perhaps the most important fixture of the season so far, Chelsea's clash with Liverpool on January 2 could be crucial for the title race.
Salah, Mane and Naby Keita will be missing for Liverpool, while Mendy will be on Senegal duty during the Stamford Bridge clash.
Another key fixture during this period comes in the form of Tottenham vs Arsenal on January 15 where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny are all set to be absent for the visitors, whereas Spurs will have no representatives at AFCON 2021.
On January 15, Chelsea host Manchester City in yet another top-of-the-table clash — City will only be missing Riyad Mahrez for the match, which will be a relief for Pep Guardiola.
Expected Premier League players at AFCON 2021
Only four Premier League teams — Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich and Spurs are set to have no representatives at AFCON 2021.
Below is the full list of players who are likely to miss the first few Premier League games of 2022.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
Thomas Partey (Ghana)
Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)
Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)
Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)
Julian Jeanvier (Guinea)
Yves Bissouma (Mali)
Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
Edouard Mendy (Senegal)
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)
Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)
Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
Daniel Amartey (Ghana)
Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Naby Keita (Guinea)
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)
Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)
Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria)
Peter Etebo (Nigeria)
William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
Adam Masina (Morocco)