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AFCON 2022: Premier League Missing Men

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Premier League players going to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations: Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City to be without key men in January and February.

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament is a go, and as a result, a number of Premier League players will be obligated to depart their club squads for the duration of their country’s stay in the 2022 competition played in Cameroon.

The tournament was originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, but it was postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were fears that it could be cancelled outright due to the rise in cases stemming from the Omicron variant, but the determination was ultimately made to move forward with the tournament.

AFCON 2021 will take place from January 9 to February 6, meaning players can miss up to a month of club soccer, plus any additional rest required following their stay in the competition. The tournament will be hosted in Cameroon, with six venues across five cities scheduled to hold matches.

The first match of the AFCON competition takes place on January 9 between hosts Cameroon and Burkina Faso, with Ethiopia and Cape Verde also playing on opening day. The schedule then calls for three to four group stage matches held each day. The Round of 16 kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 23.

Players will return to their clubs once their country is eliminated, so the players will trickle back into Premier League action as the month progresses, with those players reaching the final seeing the longest absences.

A total of 16 of 20 Premier League clubs will experience a thinner squad for the coming month as players depart to compete in AFCON. Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Norwich City are the only four teams that will not be impacted.

After the 38 Premier League players were released, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, and Watford will be the hardest hit, all losing four players each, though Watford is refusing to release Ismaila Sarr. The Foxes seem to be the club with the most to lose, already very thin due to recent injury troubles. Arsenal will see a number of starters or critical squad players depart, while Liverpool will lose two key players Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Here is the full list of players leaving Premier League clubs after being called up for the tournament:


  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
  • Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
  • Thomas Partey (Ghana)
  • Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

Aston Villa

  • Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)
  • Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
  • Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt)


  • Tarique Fosu-Henry (Ghana)
  • Julian Jeanvier (Guinea)
  • Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)


  • Yves Bissouma (Mali)


  • Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)


  • Edouard Mendy (Senegal)

Crystal Palace

  • Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
  • Chiekhou Kouyate (Senegal)
  • Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)
  • Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)


  • Jean-Phillippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)
  • Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

Leicester City

  • Daniel Amartey (Ghana)
  • Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
  • Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
  • Wilfried Ndidi (Nigeria)


  • Naby Keita (Guinea)
  • Sadio Mane (Senegal)
  • Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Manchester City

  • Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Manchester United

  • Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
  • Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)


  • Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
  • Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)


  • Peter Etebo (Nigeria)
  • Adam Masina (Morocco)
  • Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
  • William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

West Ham

  • Said Benrahma (Algeria)


  • Willy Boly (Ivory Coast)
  • Romain Saiss (Morocco)
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