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Notable Premier League absentees when the AFCON starts next month

Tuesday 27th December 2016
We're now just a few weeks from the 31st edition of the biennial African Cup of Nations tournament. The 2017 version takes place in Gabon and it's always an excellent competition to watch. However, it does provide some Premier League managers with headaches, as their stars jet off on international duty for a month.
We've decided to compile a list of the most notable absentees throughout the four weeks that the players could be missing for – with a lot of which coming from huge footballing nations like the Ivory Coast and Algeria.

There are some big-name players that won't be jetting off, due to turning their country down or the fact that their nation didn't qualify. Those include Joel Matip (Liverpool), Victor Wanyama (Tottenham), Odion Ighalo (Watford) and Kelechi Iheanacho alongside Yaya Toure (Manchester City).

Anyway, onto those guys that will be missing:

Eric Bailly, Manchester United & Ivory Coast

The 22-year-old really burst onto the scene at the start of this campaign with some superbly aggressive defending and no-nonsense style of play. Before his injury, he became a mainstay in Jose Mourinho's back four. It'll be rather annoying for the Red Devils that no sooner has he returned to action, he'll now miss the next month due to international commitments.

Sadio Mane, Liverpool & Senegal

Liverpool's £38millon man has been absolutely superb for the Anfield club, culminating in that last minute winner in the Merseyside derby. His pace has been a real asset, as well as his deadly finishing when given the opportunity. Senegal should do quite well in the tournament, so he'll be missing for a couple of weeks at the very least.

Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace & Ivory Coast

This one has some controversy surrounding it at the moment, as we're still unsure as to whether Zaha will switch alliances from England to the Ivory Coast. If he chooses to do so, he will be aboard the plane to Gabon because that's just how good he is. The news certainly won't please newly-named Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce though.  

Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City & Algeria

Last season's Player of the Year hasn't been anywhere near as good this term, but his absence will still hurt Leicester City hard. The tricky winger is an integral part of Algeria's plans, who'll have huge ambitions in the tournament thanks to a squad riddled with talent and ability. Leicester's Italian boss will have a real selection dilemma on his hands for about four weeks, and as his team are already locked in a relegation battle it couldn't have happened at a worse time.

Islam Slimani, Leicester City & Algeria

Mahrez isn't the only player missing either, as Islam Slimani will be joining his compatriot in Gabon. The huge striker has done pretty well this term despite the fact he hasn't had all that much service into him.

This one will hurt Ranieri, but not anywhere near as much as the absence of Mahrez, purely because he has plenty of other striking options available at his disposal.  

Sofiane Boufal, Southampton & Morocco

The man from Morocco has only really emerged as a Saints star over the last month or so; when he's been an absolute joy to watch thanks to his trickery and creativity on the ball. He's become a mainstay on that left-hand side for Claude Puel, and to have that taken away won't help matters down on the South coast.

Wilfried Bony, Stoke City & Ivory Coast

The big striker has been in and out of the Stoke City team this season, but we all know just how big of a threat he is when at the races. He's always done well for his country, and the Ivory Coast always seem to make it to the final of the AFCON, so he'll be gone for the best part of January and perhaps ten days in February.

Notable others:

Andre Ayew, West Ham & Ghana

Didier Ndong, Sunderland & Gabon

Lamine Kone, Sunderland & Ivory Coast

Idrissa Gueye, Everton & Senegal

Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal & Egypt
Jordan Street

Jordan Street, 25-year old sports writer. Avid Manchester United fan and season ticket holder. Lover of the Premier League. Enjoys American sports. Tom Brady's biggest admirer, Kyrie Irving for MVP.

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