As the 2017 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations approaches rapidly on the horizon, several Premier League managers, from Jurgen Klopp to Jose Mourinho, are now preparing to activate contingency plans designed to help compensate for the loss of key stars to the bi-annual tournament.

The 2012 co-host Gabon is set to stage the event for the second time in five years following Libya's withdrawal, with proceedings set to get underway at Stade de l'Amitie in the capital city of Libreville on 14 January. The final is not due to take place until 5 February and, with most countries having already commenced their pre-competition training camps, certain players could find themselves absent from domestic duties for up to six weeks.

With the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) 4 January deadline for final squad submissions having now elapsed, IBTimes UK offers an updated look at which English top-flight clubs stand to be hit hardest by Afcon...


Arsene Wenger will have to manage without midfielder Mohamed Elneny, who is an important member of seven-time champions Egypt's midfield. While 19-year-old former French youth international Ismael Bennacer was included in Algeria's provisional squad, he did not make the final cut.


Max Gradel will help the Ivory Coast attempt to defend their title in Gabon. However, striker Benik Afobe, a former England U21 international who switched his allegiance to the Democratic Republic of Congo last year only to see his debut delayed amid suggestions that the FA sent his paperwork to the wrong Congo, withdrew from Florent Ibenge's initial squad in order to fight for his place with the Cherries.

Max Gradel
Bournemouth's Max Gradel has earned 45 senior caps for the Ivory Coast Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Crystal Palace

Sam Allardyce will rue the loss of Wilfried Zaha, who accepted an offer to play for the Ivory Coast − the country of his birth − in Gabon despite England manager Gareth Southgate's late attempts to persuade him against that change of allegiance. Bakary Sako has also been called up by Mali, although his absence will be less keenly felt given his recent injury woe and current transfer links to a host of Championship clubs.

Pape Souare will obviously not feature for Senegal having yet to return from a broken jaw and thigh bone sustained in a serious car crash. Kwesi Appiah has not been included by Ghana.


Idrissa Gana Gueye has proved an incredible bargain since a £7.1m ($8.7m) summer switch from Aston Villa to Goodison Park, earning favourable comparisons to Chelsea counterpart N'Golo Kante thanks to his industrious midfield displays. However, Ronald Koeman will have to cope without the Senegalese international for the next few weeks.

Exiled striker Oumar Niasse has been omitted by Lions of Teranga head coach Aliou Cisse, while DR Congo winger Yannick Bolasie will be sidelined for a further 11-12 months due to a severe anterior cruciate ligament injury. Veteran striker Arouna Kone no longer plays for the Ivory Coast.

Hull City

Whoever is appointed as successor to Mike Phelan on Humberside will have to make do without the services of Ahmed Elmohamady and Dynamo Kiev loanee Dieumerci Mbokani following their respective call-ups by Egypt and the DR Congo.

Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez
Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez are important players for Algeria Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Leicester City

Last season's shock champions lose both star playmaker Riyad Mahrez and club-record signing Islam Slimani to Algeria. Versatile midfielder Daniel Amartey also forms part of Ghana's squad, although teammate Jeff Schlupp does not. Prospective new £15m signing Wilfred Ndidi will not travel following Nigeria's failure to qualify.


Klopp always knew that Sadio Mane would travel to the tournament with Senegal. However, he will be relieved to learn that the potentially explosive and costly club vs country row concerning centre-back Joel Matip has now been successfully defused after his omission from Hugh Broos' final 23-man Cameroon squad.

Manchester United

Just the one absentee for Mourinho, with Eric Bailly unsurprisingly selected by the Ivory Coast. He will hope that the 22-year-old can stay fit after successive knee injuries.

Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly will be a key absentee for Manchester United Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images


If Herve Renard's Morocco are to mount a serious bid for their first continental title since 1976, then record Saints signing Sofiane Boufal will likely play a prominent role.

Stoke City

Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Bony could feasibly have played his last game for Stoke if a stint in Gabon is followed by the activation of a clause in his loan agreement with parent club Manchester City that allows him to be bought by a Chinese club. Mark Hughes will chase a new striker with Mame Biram Diouf also jetting off with Senegal, while a request to delay 19-year-old winger Ramadan Sobhi's departure to Egypt's pre-competition camp was rejected.


The Black Cats' latest bid for survival is unlikely to be aided by the departures of Lamine Kone (Ivory Coast), Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia) and Didier Ndong (Gabon). Papy Djilobodji has not been recalled by Senegal following a falling out with Cisse and there was never any danger of David Moyes losing either former South Africa stalwart Steven Pienaar or Nigeria's Victor Anichebe.

Didier Ndong
Gabonese midfielder Didier Ndong joined Sunderland during the summer STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images


Like Leicester, Stoke and Sunderland, injury-stricken Watford will also see three players depart for Afcon. Nordin Amrabat joins up with Morocco, Adlene Guedioura represents Algeria and right-back Brice Dja Djedje, not even included in the Hornets' initial 25-man Premier League squad, gets the nod from Michel Dussuyer's defending champions. Odion Ighalo and Isaac Success stay put, meanwhile.

West Ham United

There is no spot in Georges Leekens' Algeria squad for struggling winger Sofiane Feghouli, but Senegal captain Cheikhou Kouyate and Ghana striker Andre Ayew depart as expected.