With the Africa Cup of Nations set to begin from January 9, a host of big-name players will jet down to Cameroon to be part of their national sides. The competition which has already been pushed back twice due to the Covid-19 crisis will see 24 teams battle it out to be crowned Africa’s best.
The players participating in the tournament come from the best of leagues in the world and the English Premier League will have players from 16 different teams taking part.
So, here’s a look at the top five players from the EPL who will be lighting up the AFCON this season.
There is no doubt that Salah is the best player to take part in the tournament. The man from Liverpool has been one of the best players in the world ever since joining Liverpool. And this season has been one of his finest as he is on top when it comes to goals and assists in the Premier League.
The 29-year-old has 16 strikes and nine assists to his name. In addition, he has also scored seven goals in six games as Liverpool qualified for the UCL Round of 16 as group toppers.
He is one of the biggest reasons that Liverpool are still somehow hanging in the title race.
— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) January 5, 2022
Liverpool will sure feel Salah’s absence and will hope that they are still in top form by the time the Egyptian returns.
If the loss of Salah was not enough, Liverpool are set to lose one more attacker in Sadio Mane. The Senegalese has been an able supporter to Salah as he racked up eight goals and one assist in the Premier League. He also has two strikes to his name in the Champions League.
🇪🇬 🤝 🇨🇮 🤝 🇸🇳
K. I. N. G. S. pic.twitter.com/sd3GlLmYg2
— CAF (@CAF_Online) October 24, 2021
Though he has not been as prolific as Salah, he still has been an integral part of Liverpool and has the ability to turn a game around single-handedly.
With Salah and Mane gone Liverpool are in a precarious position and will be hoping that their bench and other fringe players take the mantle from their dynamic duo and keep Liverpool in the title race.
Chelsea are also one of the sides to be hit by the AFCON as they will lose their first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. The player who has been in stellar form since signing has been integral for the Blues this season. Mendy has produced some brilliant performances this season and is one of the key reasons that the team is in the top four positions.
— Football (@FootballSenegal) January 4, 2022
Though he only ranks fourth when it comes to clean sheets, he has made some crucial saves that have helped Chelsea gain points during the course of the season.
His form has dipped a bit in recent weeks but still, Chelsea will be hoping that Kepa Arrizabalaga steps up his game in the Senegalese’s absence.
Manchester City will also lose one of their key players to the tournament as Riyad Mahrez joins the Algerian camp. Though the loss of Mahrez for City is not as great as those of Mendy, Salah, and Mane for their respective teams, however, one or two injuries could change that.
In addition, they have also sold Ferran Torres to Barcelona which means that Mahrez’s usefulness has increased further.
The 30-year-old has scored six goals and has provided four assists in the league while scoring an additional five goals in the Champions League.
Perhaps the best player in the Premier League currently to not play for a big club, Wilfred Zaha was recalled to the Ivory Coast ahead of the tournament,
Zaha may not have been as brilliant as Salah, and Mane but still is integral to the Crystal Palace team. The forward has scored five goals and provided one assist and over the years is the chief reason that his club have not been relegated.
And he may play an important part if Ivory Coasty are to win their third continental title.