Everyone’s favourite biannual continental tournament is back in January; the Africa Cup of Nations. Ivory Coast are the holders and will be looking to defend their title. Unfortunately for fantasy football players however, the competition is held during the Premier League season as the temperatures in the summer are way too hot for African football.
The good news is; heavyweights Nigeria failed to qualify so Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and co will not be going anywhere. Manchester City powerhouse Yaya Toure retired from international football earlier in the year so he is also staying put, whilst Liverpool’s Joel Matip will also be staying in England following his bust up with Cameroon’s FA.
Furthermore, four clubs will be unaffected by AFCON. Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Swansea will not be losing any players so you are safe to continue picking any players from these clubs.
But now we get into the nitty gritty. 16 countries will be taking part, and the first game is on January 14. The latest a player can stay in the Premier League is January 2, whilst squads must be named by December 31. It is best to avoid using players with any fixtures from New Year’s Eve onwards.
LEICESTER: Leicester City will suffer the biggest blow in my opinion. Premier League player of the season Riyad Mahrez and his fellow countryman Islam Slimani will be departing with Algeria. Another duo will be leaving the champions in the form of Daniel Amartey and Jeffrey Schlupp with Ghana.
SUNDERLAND: Sunderland’s survival hopes are also going to suffer a blow. Hosts Gabon will be calling up the Black Cats’ record signing Didier Ndong. Their rock at the back Lamine Kone will be representing Ivory Coast, and playmaker Wahbi Khazri is the Premier League’s only departure to Tunisia. Papy Djilobodji could also be on his way to play for Senegal.
WEST HAM: Another team languishing near the bottom of the table, West Ham, will lose Sofiane Feghouli, Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew. Diafra Sakho is ruled out of the tournament through injury.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Crystal Palace will be at a massive disadvantage following the decision of Wilfried Zaha to play for Ivory Coast. Bakary Sako and Kwesi Appiah will both be leaving too whilst Pape Souare is still recovering from his car accident.
WEST BROM: Tony Pulis won’t be happy either – West Brom will lose two defenders. Brendan Galloway and Allan Nyom will leave them stretched in the full-back areas. Jonathan Leko could be off too with DR Congo.
BOURNEMOUTH: Benik Afobe is another player that the Congolese will take, whilst his Cherry teammate Max Gradel will be with Ivory Coast.
EVERTON: Yannick Bolasie will be sitting on the side-lines with a serious knee problem but Everton will definitely be without their defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye; only time will tell if Oumar Niasse and Arouna Kone make their respective national 23-man squads.
WATFORD: Watford will be saying farewell to Adlene Guedioura, Brice Dja Djedje and Nordin Amrabat.
SOUTHAMPTON: Another Moroccan that will be unavailable for FPL is Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal.
STOKE: Stoke will also be missing some familiar faces; Wilfried Bony, Ramadan Sobhi and Mame Diouf will weaken their attacking options for sure.
MANCHESTER UNITED & LIVERPOOL: Manchester United and Liverpool will only lose one player each but they are crucial losses. Eric Bailly and Sadio Mane are expected to be of the star performers in January, and they could well be up against each other in the final.
ARSENAL: Arsenal will also only see one player leave; Mohamed Elneny.
BURNLEY, MIDDLESBROUGH & HULL: Zimbabwe could hand a late call-up to Burnley’s Tendayi Darikwa, as could Mali with Middlesbrough winger Adama Traore. Finally, Hull City will lose Ahmed Elmohamady to Egypt as well as Dieumerci Mbokani to DR Congo.
Here’s a full list of those FPL players that may be on their way to the Africa Cup of Nations:
Algeria: Riyad Mahrez (9.0m), Islam Slimani (8.3m), Sofiane Feghouli (5.0m), Adlene Guedioura (4.3m)
Morocco: Nordin Amrabat (5.0m), Sofiane Boufal (6.8m)
Tunisia: Wahbi Khazri (6.1m)
Egypt: Mohamed Elneny (4.6m), Ramadan Sobhi (4.9), Ahmed Elmohamady (4.7m)
Mali: Bakary Sako (5.3m), Adama Traore (4.8m)
Ghana: Jeffrey Schlupp (4.8m), Daniel Amartey (4.5m), Josh Onomah (4.3m), Andre Ayew (7.1m), Joel Asoro (4.4m)
Cameroon: Allan Nyom (4.3m)
Ivory Coast: Wilfried Zaha (5.8m), Eric Bailly (5.3m), Max Gradel (5.0m), Wilfried Bony (7.2m), Lamine Kone (4.4m)
Senegal: Cheikhou Kouyate (5.1m), Oumar Niasse (5.7m), Papy Djilobodji (4.3m), Sadio Mane (9.4m), Idrissa Gueye (5.0m), Mame Diouf (5.7m)
Gabon: Didier Ndong (4.8m)
DR Congo: Arthur Masuaku (4.7m), Jonathan Leko (4.2m), Dieumerci Mbokani (5.5m), Benik Afobe (5.6m)
Zimbabwe: Tendayi Darikwa (4.3m)
Notable Omissions: Pape Souare (4.2m), Yannick Bolasie (5.8m), Joel Matip (5.5m), Yaya Toure (7.5m), Yaya Sanogo (4.7m), Abdoulaye Doucoure (4.6m), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (6.9m), Arouna Kone (5.1m)
Note – Squads must be announced by December 31 and players must be released by January 2.
Written by Dean Ammi (@whufcammi)