Several Premier League clubs have had to re-arrange their squads as key players ready themselves for Monday’s Africa Cup of Nations kick-off. The tournament, one of the most spectacular footballing competitions, boasts a wealth of international players from Europe.
Several Premier League managers have fought to keep their players at a crucial point in the 2021/22 calendar arguing that Covid has already decimated their squads and some stating that they will not have enough players available to compete. Both the FA and world football authorities have denied them and the players left for Africa this week.
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Update on which Premier League players will be in Cameroon:
LIVERPOOL Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Nabo Keita will leave for Egypt, Senegal and Guinea respectively,
ARSENAL Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey will travel to Gabon, Ivory Coast and the Ghana squads. Omar Rekik joined Tunisia.
MANCHESTER CITY Riyal Mahrez, who helped Algeria win the last AFCAN tournament.
ASTON VILLA lose Mahmoud Trezeguet to Egypt and Bertrand Traore to Burkina Faso.
BRENTFORD Julian Jeanvier to Guinea, Frank Onyeka to Nigeria and Tariqe Fosu-Henry to Ghana
BRIGHTON Yves Bissouma to Mali
BURNLEY Maxwel Cornet to the Ivory Coast
CHELSEA Edouard Mendy to Senegal
CRYSTAL PALACE Cheikhou Kouyate to Senegal, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew to Ghana, Wilfried Zaha to Ivory Coast
EVERTON Alex Iwobi to Nigeria
LEICESTER Daniel Amartey to Ghana, Nampalys Mendy to Senegal, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho to Nigeria
MANCHESTER UNITED Eric Bailly to Ivory Coast, Amad Diallo to Ivory Coast, Hannibal Mejbri to Tunisia
SOUTHAMPTON Moussa Djenepo to Mali
WATFORD William Troost-Ekong to Nigeria, Imran Louza and Adam Masina to Morocco and Ismaila Sarr to Senegal
WEST HAM Said Benrahma to Algeria
WOLVES Willy Boly to Ivory Coast and Romain Saiss to Morocco
Only Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich and Tottenham have no players involved
PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS
Newcastle reshaping their team for relegation fight
The world’s potentially richest club are writing out cheques thick and fast for the January transfer window. Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier has arrived on Tyneside to join the Baggies. A £12 million deal was agreed. Following him could be Sven Botman the Lille defender who has been priced at £30 million but the French club are apparently going to fight to keep him. He is a tall left-footed centre-back. Ex-Liverpool favourite Gini Wijnaldum is unhappy at Paris St Germain and would be ideal for Newcastle. He scored 11 goals in his first 40 games previously at Newcastle. Manager Eddie Howe is planning to link Gini with Joelinton to increase the work rate in midfield.
The surprise package possibly taking place at Newcastle is Arsenal’s out-of-favour ex-captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has missed the last five Gunner’s games however many are questioning whether he would be up for a relegation fight after arriving late again for training and parking his gold Lambourgini in the St James’ car park!
Cancelo a power of strength at City
Next time you see Manchester City in action watch Joao Cancelo. He has become a regular for Pep Guardiola who has given the Portugese a free roaming role. The manager pencils Joao into his formation team sheet as a full back however when the team moves forward he too advances up the field and slots in next to Rodri in midfield and the remaining defenders reorganise themselves into a back three. Guardiola explained his strategy and said, “The main reason for working like this is to get more players into the middle and to pass the ball. To have four, five, six players together and when you make short passes you have more control.” Cancelo has made more touches, most passes, second most tackles and shots on goal than any other City player this season and when Jack Grealish was asked who at City had impressed him he said, “Joao, he is so good he’s a joke.”
Everton look to strengthen
Under pressure Rafa Benitez agreed with his management at Everton to sign Rangers right back Nathan Patterson which shows the club are still backing the manager but the fuse is very short indeed and one more bad defeat could see the end of his brief stay at the club. The 20-year-old was wanted by Benitez in the summer but the Scottish club’s £10million valuation was thought to be too high. Dynamo Kiev left back Vitally Mykolenko is also on the Toffees radar because of Lucas Digne’s long term uncertainty at the club. Everton are also scouting around for another defender.
Tammy Abraham making an impression in Serie A
As he headed home for a quick Christmas visit with his family Tammy Abraham was a very happy man. After being discarded at Chelsea he was snapped up by Jose Mourinho at Roma in Italy’s Serie A. He has now scored 6 Serie A goals, 6 Conference League goals and in Roma’s game against Atalanta he took only 55 seconds to find the net. Mourinho said, “He is able to score 20 goals per season – it’s exactly what he did at Chelsea and I am super happy with Tammy.”
Van Dijk almost back to his best
Jurgen Klopp says that Liverpool have every chance of winning the Premier League title this year now that Virgil van Dijk is almost back to full strength. Before signing the Dutchman from Southampton for £75million they had tracked 34 different centre backs over an 18month period. Aymeric Laporte, now with Manchester City and Naples’ Kalidou Koulibaly were among those Liverpool rejected. Klopp pointed out that Van Dijk has been on the losing side only 23 times in four years and when he plays Liverpool’s percentage of wins is 71.14% against 56.92% when he does not play. Jurgen went on to say, “We are lucky to have strength in our defence so when Virgil’s body is showing strains we do not have to push him. That is a good position for us to be in.”