Premier League players at AFCON 2022: Who was called and when they leave

The African Cup of Nations tournament is over, and as a result, several Premier League players have been required to leave their club teams during their country’s 2022 Cameroon competition.

The tournament was originally scheduled for summer 2021, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were fears that it could be canceled outright due to an increase in omicron cases, but in the end it was decided to move forward with the tournament.

AFCON 2021 takes place from January 9 to February 6, which means that players can skip up to a month of club football plus any additional rest they require after remaining in the competition. The tournament takes place in Cameroon, the matches are held in six places in five cities.

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Here are all the details about the players who left the Premier League and what matches they could have missed.

When do Premier League players leave for AFCON?

The clubs were not required to release players competing in the African Cup of Nations until January 3, which means that players were available for Premier League matches on New Year’s weekend, January 1-3, during which 16 of the 20 Premier League clubs had scheduled matches.

The first match of the AFCON competition took place on January 9 between the hosts of Cameroon and Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia and Cape Verde also played on the opening day. The schedule then requires three to four group stage matches held each day. The round of 16 begins on Sunday, January 23.

Players will return to their clubs as soon as their country is eliminated, so players will return to Premier League action during the month, with those players reaching the final recording the longest absences.

MORE: Is the Premier League title match over?

Which Premier League players are leaving for AFCON?

A total of 16 of the 20 Premier League clubs are experiencing a thinner frame in the coming month as players leave to compete in AFCON. Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Norwich City are the only four teams that will not be affected.

After 31 Premier League players were released, Arsenal, Leicester City and Watford will be hit hardest, each losing four players, although Watford also refused to release Ismail Sarr (Senegal) and Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria). The Foxes seem to be the club that can lose the most, they are already very thin due to recent injury problems. Arsenal will see the departure of a line of starting or critical players, while Liverpool will lose a pair of star attacking players.

Here is a complete list of players leaving Premier League clubs after they have been invited to the tournament:


  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
  • Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
  • Thomas Partey (Ghana)
  • Nicolas Pepe (Côte d’Ivoire)

Aston Villa

  • Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
  • Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt)




  • Maxwel Cornet (Côte d’Ivoire)


Hakim Ziyech is a full member of the Moroccan party, but was dropped from the AFCON team due to a rift with the national team’s head coach.

Crystal Palace

  • Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
  • Chiekhou Kouyate (Senegal)
  • Wilfried Zaha (Côte d’Ivoire)


Leicester City

  • Daniel Amartey (Ghana)
  • Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
  • Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
  • Wilfried Ndidi (Nigeria)


  • Naby Keita (Guinea)
  • Sadio Mane (Senegal)
  • Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Manchester city

Manchester United

  • Eric Bailly (Côte d’Ivoire)



  • Imran Louza (Morocco)
  • Adam Masina (Morocco)
  • Maduka Okoye (Nigeria)
  • William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

Emmanuel Dennis has been called to the Nigerian cadre, but will not participate after the national team misses the deadline for informing Watford of his inclusion.

There was also a tug of war between the club and the country due to Ismail Sarr. The Senegalese federation has issued a statement that Watford did not release Sarra into the competition.

West Ham


  • Willy Boly (Côte d’Ivoire)
  • Romain Saiss (Morocco)

Occupation of AFCON Premier League players by nations

Ivory Coast and Nigeria have the most Premier League players on the team than any other nation, each with five. Senegal has a total of five EPL players on the roster.

Algeria (2):

  • Said Benrahma (West Ham)
  • Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

Burkina Faso (1):

  • Bertrand Traore (Aston Villa)

Egypt (3):

  • Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
  • Mahmoud Trezeguet (Aston Villa)

Gabon (1):

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Ghana (3):

  • Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)
  • Daniel Amartey (Leicester City)
  • Thomas Partey (Arsenal)

Guinea (1):

Ivory Coast (5):

  • Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
  • Willy Boly (Wolves)
  • Maxwel Cornet (Burnley)
  • Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal)
  • Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Mali (2):

  • Yves Bissouma (Brighton)
  • Moussa Djenepo (Southampton)

Morocco (2):

  • Imran Louza (Watford)
  • Adam Masina (Watford)
  • Romain Saiss (Wolves)

Nigeria (5):

  • Kelici Iheanacho (Leicester City)
  • Alex Iwobi (Everton)
  • Wilfried Ndidi (Leicester City)
  • Frank Onyeka (Brentford)
  • William Troost-Ekong (Watford)

Senegal (4):

  • Chiekhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace)
  • Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
  • Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
  • Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City)

Senegal revealed that Watford had decided not to release Ismail Sarr, even though it was required by FIFA rules.


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