The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations was originally planned to take place in June and July to avoid clashing with the European club season.
However, the competition was postponed owing to worries over Ivory Coast’s adverse weather. Now, it will take place from January 13 to February 11.
For Premier League teams, the possibility of losing top African players to the competition during the hectic winter season has always been one of the drawbacks of signing them, and this season won’t be any different as a result of the scheduling adjustment. The 2023 AFCON will have a significant impact on several English teams, with up to 43 players potentially missing games for their clubs when the action begins in the new year.
The Premier League players who will be forced to miss this winter’s tournaments are listed below by 5Times.
Algeria’s Said Benrahma
Since his transfer from Brentford to West Ham in the summer of 2020, Benrahma has been a pillar for the squad. Last year, he scored in the Europa Conference League final, so his absence from the Hammers when he departs for the Ivory Coast will surely be felt.
Egypt’s Rayan Ait-Nouri
Ait-Nouri joined the Algerian military ranks just recently, having renounced his previous loyalty to France in March 2023. He is one of the Fennec Foxes’ most reliable players, therefore Wolves may be secretly hoping he is left off of their AFCON roster.
Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traore
Traore, who can be unstoppable on certain days, has fluctuated since joining Aston Villa. A difficult 2022–23 season due to injuries slowed down his development; he will be trying to return to his top form for club and nation during the upcoming months.
Burkina Faso’s Dango Ouattara
One of the storm of January arrivals that helped Bournemouth reach Premier League safety during the previous season was Dango Ouattara. Unfortunately, he has been unable to play so far in this campaign due to an injury, but he should be ready to go for Burkina Faso this winter.
Burkina Faso’s Issa Kabore
Since joining Manchester City in 2020, Kabore hasn’t played a single minute for the first team. However, if he performs well while on loan at recently promoted Luton Town, Pep Guardiola could be persuaded of his potential. He has 30 international caps for his country at the age of 22, therefore the Hatters will be without him in January.
Cameroon’s Bryan Mbeumo
At the beginning of the season, Mbeumo was under pressure since Ivan Toney was serving a ban for breaking the betting regulations. However, the Cameroonian has flourished in the limelight and has had a strong start to the season.
Cameroon’s Andre Onana
Onana left the World Cup early due to a high-profile argument with Cameroon coach Rigobert Song about the squad’s playing style, but he rejoined the international team in September. He assisted the Indomitable Lions in securing their spot at the AFCON in 2023, and Altay Bayindir is probably going to fill in for Manchester United this winter.
DR Congo’s Yoane Wissa
Wissa has been given more goal-scoring duty in Toney’s absence, similar to how Mbeumo has. He has also resisted giving in to pressure, and DR Congo is hopeful he will do similarly in AFCON.
DR Congo’s Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu
With Luton Town, Ruddock Mpanzu has seen an astonishing journey from non-league to the top of English football. Playing for his nation in the 2023 AFCON would be another fantastical chapter in an amazing career.
Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny
Elneny was anticipated to leave Arsenal in the summer, but the fact that the Gunners unexpectedly extended his contract in March caught everyone off guard. He hardly ever plays for the club these days as he considers a career change into coaching, and if he doesn’t make the Egypt squad this winter, he could regret his choice to stay put.
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah
If Egypt performs well this winter, Salah may be forced to sit out Liverpool’s Premier League matches against Bournemouth, Chelsea, and Arsenal. However, Al-Ittihad may wind up having to deal with this as the Saudi Pro League team is set to sign the forward for a record sum.
Ghana’s Thomas Partey.
Partey’s spot in the Arsenal first team appeared to be in jeopardy with the summer’s high-profile additions of Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, especially following the 2022–23 season’s poor finish. But Arteta has stuck by the Ghanaian star from the beginning, using him as a minor full-back.
Ghana’s Antoine Semenyo
Since moving from Championship Bristol City to Premiership Bournemouth last January, Semenyo hasn’t exactly made a splash in the Premier League, scoring just once in 2022–23. However, since his debut, his performances have been sufficient to retain him in the Ghana team.
Ghana’s Tariq Lamptey
After making a splash during Project Restart, Lamptey’s development has since been hindered by injuries as well as the addition of James Milner. Despite this, Ghana manager Chris Hughton would undoubtedly choose him for his AFCON team if he is healthy.
Ghana’s Jeffrey Schlupp
Schlupp was unexpectedly left out of the Black Stars’ World Cup squad, but Hughton is eager to get him back. Crystal Palace will be hoping that he decides to remain at home.
Ghana’s Jordan Ayew
Ayew praised the “magic of football” after Ghana’s thrilling 2-1 victory against Central African Republic allowed them to qualify for the AFCON. The fourth-most capped member of the Black Stars is not without his detractors, but he will be essential to their hopes of winning.
Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus
Since he’s been pursued by some of Europe’s finest teams for several years, West Ham did well to sign Kudus this summer. His late arrival has prevented the Hammers’ supporters from seeing his greatest performance, and when he leaves for the 2023 AFCON, they will also miss out on his skills.
Ivory Coast’s Hamed Traore
Traore joined Bournemouth permanently in the summer after first joining on a loan from Sassuolo, and boss Andoni Iraola has been all praise for the Ivorian. Although there is competition for positions up front in his national team, if he maintains this form, he may start at a tournament held in his country.
Ivory Coast’s Simon Adingra
Adingra is the most recent in a long line of rising artists to come out of Brighton. The Nigerian was signed from Nordsjaelland for a small sum, made an impact when on loan at Seagulls’ sister team Union SG last season, and is now back at the Amex. The pinnacle of his career will be playing in front of his home supporters this winter.
Ivory Coast’s Amad Diallo
Amad has a good chance of playing sporadically for the Red Devils once he gets back to health because Manchester United is looking quite blunt up front to start the 2023–24 season. In addition, after making his Ivory Coast debut in 2021, he has received four caps.
Ivory Coast’s Maxwel Cornet
Cornet, who will undoubtedly play a significant role in Jean-Louis Gasset’s team if healthy, is another West Ham player who may miss the AFCON. The Hammers shouldn’t miss him too much because he has had trouble securing a starting position in east London since moving there from Burnley.
Ivory Coast’s Ibrahim Sangare
Destructive midfielder Sangare, a deadline-day signing from PSV Eindhoven, appears to be a wise choice for Nottingham Forest. Given that the 25-year-old has already earned over 30 caps for the Elephants, Ivory Coast respects his abilities as well.
Ivory Coast’s Serge Aurier
Aurier has been in great shape to start the 2023–24 season, contributing two assists to a crucial 2-1 victory over Sheffield United. He will be one of the Ivory Coast team’s more seasoned leaders as they prepare for a historic competition.
Ivory Coast’s Willy Boly
Boly joined the international scene later than most, earning his Ivory Coast debut in 2020 after previously playing for France at the junior level. If he does end up going to the 2023 AFCON, Forest will be even more frustrated because he is not their first-choice centre-back.
Mali’s Cheick Doucoure
Despite being linked to a summer transfer to Liverpool, Doucoure chose to remain at Crystal Palace, much to the pleasure of the team’s supporters. The bad news for Eagles supporters is that Roy Hodgson will be without his go-to midfielder for the remainder of Mali’s participation in the competition.
Mali’s Ismaila Coulibaly
When Coulibaly first came to Bramall Lane in 2020, he was expected to become a future star. He returned to witness Sheffield United win the Championship after spending two years on loan at Belgian club Beerschot, and his prospects of making the first squad this year appear to be just as slim. However, he was still able to infiltrate the Mali team.
Mali’s Yves Bissouma
Bissouma has had a productive start to the season and is one of several people to benefit from Ange Postecoglou’s hiring as Tottenham manager in the summer. He recently got into some trouble for his timekeeping, but he will be greatly missed by the Spurs when he leaves for the competition.
Mali’s Boubacar Traore
Following an initial loan stint with the club last season, Traore pleased Wolves to secure a permanent transfer. He may not even make the Mali squad this winter as he is far from a Gary O’Neil regular.
Morocco’s Annass Zaroury
Zaroury had a rough start to his Premier League career after receiving a straight red card for a frantic lunge during his team’s season-opening match against Manchester City. He needs to do better before the Morocco squad is chosen since there is tough competition for spots.
Morocco’s Nayef Aguerd
Aguerd has recently attracted transfer interest from some of the Premier League’s top teams, shown by his successful first season with West Ham in 2022–23. Before this summer’s acquisition of Konstantinos Mavropanos, which was perhaps motivated by Aguerd’s potential AFCON-enforced absence, the Hammers were not the best-stocked team at centre-back.
Nigeria’s Frank Onyeka
Since 2021, when Brentford was promoted to the Premier League, Onyeka has shown to be a dependable player. Onyeka will play in the Ivory Coast’s midfield among players like Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo because Nigeria realised the value of his efforts.
Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi
Iwobi, who had previously played for England at the junior level, moved to Nigeria in 2015 and has since established himself as a pillar for the Super Eagles. They will be hoping that his decision to join Fulham turns out to be a wise one.
Nigeria’s Awoniyi Taiwo
The depth of Nigeria’s front line is amazing. Nowadays, playing two attackers is uncommon in elite football, but when Nigeria has options like Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, Gift Orban, and Awoniyi, it makes perfect sense.
Nigeria’s Emmanuel Dennis
As the Super Eagles have such a powerful front line, Dennis could not even make the team. He’ll need things to drastically shift at Nottingham Forest if he wants to travel to the Ivory Coast. His best option is to make a last-minute relocation to Turkey.
Nigeria’s Calvin Bassey
When Bassey joined Dutch club Ajax in an Eredivisie record deal for a defender, there were high expectations for him. He didn’t impress last season, though, and was quickly sent to Fulham, where he doesn’t seem like a lock to start.
Nigeria’s Ola Aina
Aina began his career with Chelsea before signing with Torino in 2019. He will be looking for better fortune this season, both at Nottingham Forest and for Nigeria, after experiencing Premier League relegation while on loan at Fulham during the 2020–21 season.
Senegal’s Nicholas Jackson
Jackson’s summer transfer to Chelsea came as a surprise after the striker caught the eye of the free-spending Blues with a barrage of goals for Villarreal at the end of the previous campaign. This winter, he’ll probably start in front of Sadio Mane for Senegal.
Senegal’s Moussa Niakhate
Niakhate, a member of the France Under-21 team, committed to Senegal in March 2023. He was a consistent starter for Nottingham Forest last season when he wasn’t injured, but his reduced playing time this year may hurt his chances of making the AFCON team.
Senegal’s Cheikhou Kouyate.
Kouyate played a significant role in Senegal’s 2021 AFCON victory and has played for West Ham, Crystal Palace, and Nottingham Forest in the Premier League. Even at age 33, he still plays a significant role for both club and country.
Senegal’s Pape Matar Sarr
Despite Tottenham’s terrible performance last season, Sarr had to wait for his first-team opportunities. But he’s one of Postecoglou’s most dependable lieutenants this year, and he’ll probably wear 100 Senegal caps before he retires.
Tunisia’s Hannibal Mejbri
Many expected Mejbri to be moved out on loan this summer, so it was surprising to see the forward stay at Old Trafford. But you never know. If he performs well in practice, the Tunisian international may make the first team due to United’s problems upfront.
Tunisia’s Anis Ben Slimane
Anis, a summer signing from Denmark’s Brondby, has made few appearances for Sheffield United thus far because of a hamstring injury. He missed Tunisia’s September matches as a result of that problem, but there’s little question he’ll be back in the mix for the competition.