Premier League clubs braced for Africa Cup of Nations disruption

Mohamed Salah could miss January Liverpool games to play in AFCON and start of season to play in Olympics

Mohamed Salah celebrates his goal with Sadio Mane
Image: Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane could miss a chunk of next season due to international commitments

Premier League clubs will face disruption next season after Cameroon announced the Africa Cup of Nations will be moved from the summer to January 2021.

The tournament was due to be held in June and July but, due to weather conditions in the country at that time of year, the Cameroon Football Federation has decided to stage it between January 9 and February 6.

"It (2021 Africa Cup of Nations) will be played in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2021. Date changed for weather reasons at Cameroon's request," the federation posted on Twitter after a meeting with representatives from the Confederation of African Football.

Riyad Mahrez in action for Manchester City
Image: Riyad Mahrez is likely to feature at the tournament for Algeria

The move will have major implications for Premier League clubs with Liverpool likely to be particularly badly affected with Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Naby Keita (Guinea) all potentially unavailable to play for the club during that period.

The Premier League's African contingent

Arsenal Aubameyang (Gabon), Pepe (Ivory Coast), Elneny (Egypt - out on loan at Besiktas)
Aston Villa Nakamba (Zimbabwe), Trezeguet (Egypt), Kodjia (Ivory Coast), Elmohamady (Egypt)
Brighton Balogun (Nigeria), Bissouma (Mali), Bong (Cameroon), Tau (South Africa - out on loan at Club Brugge)
Crystal Palace Schlupp (Ghana), Kouyate (Senegal), Ayew (Ghana), Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Everton Iwobi (Nigeria), Gbamin (Ivory Coast), Niasse (Senegal), Bolasie (DR Congo - out on loan at Sporting Lisbon)
Leicester Iheanacho (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Amartey (Ghana), Slimani (Algeria - out on loan at Monaco), Ghezzal (Algeria - out on loan at Fiorentina)
Liverpool Keita (Guinea), Salah (Egypt), Mane (Senegal)
Manchester City Mahrez (Algeria)
Manchester United Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Newcastle Atsu (Ghana), Saivet (Senegal)
Southampton Djenepo (Mali), Boufal (Morocco), Lemina (Gabon - out on loan at Galatasaray)
Tottenham Wanyama (Kenya), Aurier (Ivory Coast)
Watford Success (Nigeria)
West Ham Masuaku (DR Congo)
Wolves Saiss (Morocco)

Salah could miss even more football for Liverpool next season with Egypt U23 coach Shawky Gharib indicating last November that he would like the forward as one of three over-age players in his squad for this summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Wilfred Ndidi
Image: Leicester may have to make do without Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi

Egypt have already qualified for the Games which will run from July 22 to August 8, and Salah's participation could see him unavailable for Liverpool's opening matches of next season.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) and Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) are also likely to feature in addition to Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez as well as a number of other Premier League club first-team players.

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Since 1960, the tournament was always held during winter or early spring, mainly due to climate reasons and to avoid conflict with other international tournaments or club competitions, but it was changed last year when Egypt hosted the first summer tournament.

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