Liverpool could be without two of their most important attacking players for most of their pre-season campaign.
Both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané have been selected for the Egypt and Senegal squads respectively at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
It gets underway in less than a week from now, on
The final takes place on July 19, eight days after Liverpool start their pre-season friendlies on July 11.
The quarter-finals last from July 10 to July 11, while both semi-finals are scheduled for July 14.
Crucially, hosts Egypt and Senegal top the betting odds as the outright winner of the competition.
So it seems, even at this early stage, that both Salah and Mané could still be on international duty less than a month before the 2019/20 Premier League campaign kicks off.
If either or both of them make it to at least the quarter-finals, they would definitely miss Liverpool’s trips to Tranmere and Bradford on July 11 and 14.
They would also likely be absent for a meeting with Borussia Dortmund in Indiana (USA) on July 19 as it takes place on the same day that AFCON 2019 reaches its conclusion.
International players are typically given a few weeks of leave after major tournaments, delaying their return to pre-season with their clubs.
It would, therefore, be likely that Salah and Mané would miss the entirety of Liverpool’s tour of USA if they make it to the closing stages of AFCON 2019.
After playing Borussia Dortmund, the Reds face Sevilla in Boston on July 21 before Sporting are their opponents in New York on July 24.
Liverpool’s full pre-season fixture list can currently be found on our Pre-Season page.
It is entirely possible that the first club match either Salah or Mané become involved in, if they go far at AFCON 2019, could be the Community Shield final against Manchester City on August 4.
That’s why we’ll be tracking all the Premier League assets that are competing in Egypt over the next month or so.
Here is a list of them, sorted by clubs.
- Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
- Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
- Ahmed El Mohamady (Egypt)
- Jonathan Kodjia (Ivory Coast)
Brighton and Hove Albion
- Leon Balogun (Nigeria)
- Gaëtan Bong (Cameroon)
- Yves Bissouma (Mali) – pulled out with injury
- Cheikhou Kouyaté (Senegal)
- Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
- Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
- Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)
- Admiral Muskwe (Zimbabwe)
- Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
- Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
- Naby Keita (Guinea)
- Sadio Mané (Senegal)
- Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
- Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
- Christian Atsu (Ghana)
- Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
- Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)
- Victor Wanyama (Kenya)
West Ham United
- Arthur Masuaku (DR Congo)
- Romain Saïss (Morocco)
Thankfully, no Premier League side has more than three players present at the tournament – so the disruption should not be on the same scale that the 2018 World Cup caused.
Liverpool are one of the clubs to have a trio in Egypt, Guinea’s Naby Keita also set to participate in the tournament.
However, his country is not expected to go as far as Egypt or Senegal – plus Jurgen Klopp has more cover for him in central midfield.
Crystal Palace might also be a little concerned about their players at the tournament.
Wilfried Zaha will be heading to Egypt with the Ivory Coast, and he’ll fancy his chances of taking them to at least the last eight.
The Eagles begin their pre-season campaign on July 9 with a trip to Swiss club Luzern.
They then face Young Boys on July 13 and Nottingham Forest on July 19. Find out the rest of Palace’s pre-season matches HERE.
If Senegal do go far with Mané at the helm, it would also mean an extended leave of absence for Zaha’s colleague Cheikhou Kouyaté.
Ghana striker Jordan Ayew could also be at risk of missing pre-season matches for Palace.
Meanwhile, if Zaha does fire Ivory Coast into a serious bid for the AFCON title, that would see compatriot Serge Aurier missing much of Spurs’ pre-season campaign.
That could be good news for those looking at Kieran Trippier, as Aurier’s absence would certainly boost his chances of a start for Gameweek 1 – although Kyle Walker-Peters will likely still pose a threat.
The same goes for Raheem Sterling hopefuls, as Riyad Mahrez arriving at pre-season late for Manchester City could see the Englishman face less competition in the early stages of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
AFCON 2019 could also affect the clean sheet potential for some teams.
Idrissa Gueye‘s role with Senegal could see him miss a large chunk of Everton’s pre-season campaign ahead of some favourable fixtures in the early FPL Gameweeks.
He is a vital part of the Toffees’ squad and he was one of the reasons why they were so defensively solid at the back-end of 2018/19.
Fantasy managers considering the likes of Jordan Pickford, Lucas Digne or Seamus Coleman for Gameweek 1 might have to track Gueye’s role in pre-season over the summer.
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