Historically, once every two years, several Premier League managers face a mid-season headache. But this campaign, thanks to a change in the rules, they’ll have no such issue. We are of course talking about the biennial continental championship, the Africa Cup of Nations. Last summer, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) voted to move the tournament to the summer, bringing it in line with the European Championships, the Copa America and the Asia Cup. The next staging will be in Cameroon next year, between June 7 and 30.
It’s great news for Premier League club managers such as Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho, Everton’s Marco Silva and Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri. Come January, they won’t have to deal with the issue of losing key players for up to six weeks. It’s also one less thing for bosses to consider when signing players during the windows. Sadio Mane and Mo Salah won’t be jetting off mid-season. Naby Keita, from Guinea, has added to the African ranks at Liverpool
The last Cup of Nations was particularly cruel on Klopp, who could only watch as Senegal forward Sadio Mane, his player of the campaign, jetted off to Gabon to represent his country. If the rules hadn’t changed, it would have been an even bigger problem for Liverpool this season, with star man Mohamed Salah and new signing Naby Keita likely to be there with Egypt and Guinea respectively. Oumar Niasse and Idrissa Gueye will be hoping to make the Senegal squad for the Cup of Nations
Man United’s Ivorian defender Eric Bailly could be a key man at Old Trafford this season. Mourinho has one African player in his ranks, Ivorian Eric Bailly, while Sarri has Nigeria star Victor Moses and Silva has Senegalese pair Idrissa Gueye and Oumarr Niasse. There are plenty of other African players included in other Premier League clubs’ squads.