In-form Liverpool Sadio Mane will be joined by Wilfried Zaha, Riyad Mahrez and a number of other Premier League stars at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after the final squads were announced.
This year’s edition of the biennial tournament gets underway in Gabon on January 14, and culminates with the final on February 5, meaning those called-up could potentially miss up to four Premier League matches.
That could prove disruptive to a number of sides, perhaps most notably Leicester, who have no less than three players including Mahrez and Islam Slimani involved in the Algeria and Ghana squads; all will be unavailable during what could prove to be a crucial spell for the Foxes.
Stoke, Sunderland, Watford and West Ham also each have three players involved across the squads of various qualifiers and Arsene Wenger will be without Mohamed Elneny who played in every single minute of Egypt’s qualifying campaign on the road to their first appearance at the tournament since 2010. Gunners’ youngster Ismael Bennacer – who is 19 years-old and yet to make his Premier League debut – has been named in the Algeria squad.
Liverpool will be without Senegal’s Mane, though they will have defender Joel Matip available for selection after he was one of seven players – including West Brom defender Allan Nyom – to snub a Cameroon call-up earlier this month. Merseyside rivals Everton lose Idrissa Gueye to the Senegal squad, but Yannick Bolasie will not travel after the £25m summer signing from Crystal Palace suffered a serious knee ligament injury earlier this month.
Crystal Palace have two eligible players in their squad but Pape Souare is yet to recover from a broken thighbone he suffered in a car crash in September. Mali international Bakary Sako has been included in his country’s provisional squad despite seeing little action for the Eagles this term.
Manchester United’s Eric Bailly is one of four top-flight players named by Michel Dussuyer in his Ivory Coast squad as they look to retain their title. Meanwhile, former England U21 international, Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe received his maiden call-up for the DR Congo but has since withdrawn from the squad.
Seven Premier League teams are unaffected by the tournament in the shape of Burnley, Chelsea, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Tottenham and West Brom.