International Football

How AFCON will affect FPL – and how many Gameweeks Salah and others could miss

The delayed 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is still around two months away but its ramifications for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) will be significant, maybe more so than many people realise.

With the November international break representing our last chance to take a collective breath before the festive fixture frenzy starts, it’s worth having a look at which FPL assets we’ll have to do without while AFCON is taking place and how many Gameweeks these players will be absent for.

WHEN DOES AFCON 2021 TAKE PLACE?

The tournament proper runs from Sunday 9 January to Sunday 6 February and will be staged in Cameroon.

With 16 nations progressing from the 24-team group stage, the chances of getting some of the big FPL names back early aren’t great; the likes of Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Algeria are among the tournament favourites and will expect to go deep into the knockout rounds.

StageDates
Group stageJan 9-20
Round of 16Jan 23-26
Quarter-finalsJan 29-30
Semi-finalsFeb 2-3
Third place play-off/FinalFeb 6

HOW MANY GAMEWEEKS WILL FPL PLAYERS MISS DUE TO THEIR INVOLEMENT AT AFCON?

On paper, the damage doesn’t look too bad. Thanks to a combination of the FA Cup and a wider January international break, only two Gameweeks are affected while AFCON is on: Gameweeks 22 and 23.

However, with the competing countries requiring and allowed pre-tournament prep time with their players, other Gameweeks could be affected before that.

According to FIFA rules

“Players must be released and start the travel to their representative team no later than Monday morning the week preceding the week when the relevant final competition starts and must be released by the association in the morning of the day after the last match of their team in the tournament.”

With the tournament kicking off on Sunday 9 January, that could mean that players involved in AFCON will be required to leave their clubs on Monday 27 December.

Gameweeks 20 and 21 could also be affected, then, and possibly even the Newcastle United v Manchester United match in Gameweek 19.

And anyone involved in the final or third-place play-off on Sunday 6 February would surely be doubtful for Gameweek 24, which takes place on Tuesday-Wednesday 8-9 February.

Premier League clubs will no doubt try to exploit every legal loophole available to them and delay the departure of their African players but the Athletic reported in October that the December 27 release date still stands for now:

FIFA have confirmed that, as it stands, the start day of individual teams’ tournaments won’t change the original date for when teams need to report. A spokesperson told The Athletic: “FIFA can confirm that the release period for this competition is governed by article 1 paragraph 7 of annexe 1 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), which in this case provides a release date of 27 December 2021. This is applicable to all teams regardless of when they play their first match.

One Premier League club who are set to lose multiple players to AFCON call-ups told The Athletic that special dispensation for a January 3 release is only likely to be given if it applies across the board — to all clubs and nations — for the integrity of the competition. It is only Premier League players who would require special treatment among Europe’s top five leagues (Spain, Italy, Germany and France) as elsewhere players won’t be needed for matches from at least December 27 because of winter breaks.

GameweekDates
Gameweek 19Dec 26-27
Gameweek 20Dec 28-30
Gameweek 21Jan 1-3
Gameweek 22Jan 14-16
Gameweek 23Jan 21-23
Gameweek 24Feb 8-9

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYERS AND TEAMS AFFECTED BY AFCON 2021

Up to 40 players from 16 clubs could be representing their respective nations at AFCON in January.

Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Leicester City may have up to four of their players unavailable for Premier League duty in the affected Gameweeks but the worst-hit side looks set to be relegation-threatened Watford, who could have six squad members missing – although one of them, Peter Etebo (£4.4m), looks highly unlikely to feature anyway because of injury.

Leeds United, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur are the four teams that won’t be affected by the tournament in Cameroon.

There are some big names in the below list, the most notable of which is Mohamed Salah (£13.0m).

The 71%-owned leading points-scorer in FPL is one of three Liverpool players who are set to be missing in January and possibly the beginning of February, with Sadio Mane (£11.9m) and Naby Keita (£5.0m) set to turn out for Senegal and Guinea respectively.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.1m), Maxwel Cornet (£6.0m), Edouard Mendy (£6.2m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m), Ismaila Sarr (£6.1m) and Said Benrahma (£6.4m) are also stand-out names in the table we’ve put together here:


ClubPlayers who may be at AFCON 2021
ArsenalThomas Partey (Ghana)
Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
Aston VillaMahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt)
Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)
BrentfordFrank Onyeka (Nigeria)
Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)
BrightonYves Bissouma (Mali)
BurnleyMaxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
ChelseaEdouard Mendy (Senegal)
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
Crystal PalaceCheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)
Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
EvertonJean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
LeicesterDaniel Amartey (Ghana)
Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
LiverpoolMohamed Salah (Egypt)
Naby Keita (Guinea)
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Manchester CityRiyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Manchester UnitedEric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)
SouthamptonMoussa Djenepo (Mali)
Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)
WatfordPeter Etebo (Nigeria)
William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
Adam Masina (Morocco)
Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria)
Imran Louza (Morocco)
West HamSaid Benrahma (Algeria)
WolvesRomain Saiss (Morocco)
Willy Boly (Ivory Coast)

While the majority of the names in the above list will depart for Cameroon over the festive season, we should stress that a few players may miss out.

Emmanuel Dennis (£5.2m) hasn’t been called up by Nigeria in a year, for example, while Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) didn’t feature in Ivory Coast’s squad in the November international break amid reports of a bust-up between the Palace winger and his national team coach.

WHICH KEY FPL ASSETS COULD BENEFIT FROM THE ABSENCE OF TEAMMATES DURING AFCON?

Diogo Jota (£7.5m) looks set to be a standout beneficiary of Mane and Salah’s absences, just as he is at present thanks to Roberto Firmino‘s (£8.8m) hamstring problem. Divock Origi (£4.9m), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (£5.8m) and Takumi Minamino (£5.1m) could also be called upon to feature in the Liverpool front three in the affected Gameweeks.

Mendy’s absence for Chelsea will give the cut-price Kepa Arrizabalaga (£4.8m) anything up to five Premier League matches between the posts, while Alexandre Lacazette (£8.3m) – now back in the Arsenal side alongside Aubameyang anyway – will presumably enjoy even greater security of starts while his Gabonese colleague is away.

The unavailability of Mahrez may further aid the chances of sustained game-time for Gabriel Jesus (£8.7m) on the right flank, while Nikola Vlasic (£5.8m) and Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.2m) will be eyeing up Benrahma’s vacated spot in the West Ham attack.

229 Comments Post a Comment
  1. HollywoodXI
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    2 FTs. Kane and Gallagher or Ronaldo and Gallagher?

    1. have you seen cyan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Kane

      1. Old Gregg
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Kane. then move to Ronaldo if things go wrong.

        1. Dexters Laboratory
          • 1 Year
          2 months, 9 days ago

          This

          1. isthoralive
              2 months, 9 days ago

              This, but if you have Son I would go Ronaldo

              1. HollywoodXI
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 7 Years
                2 months, 9 days ago

                Could go Son and Wilson.

    2. HurriKane
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Do you think Son outscores Vardy by 4 points over next 4 gws?

      Son- LEE bur BRE NOR

      Vardy- CHE WAT sot avl

      1. HollywoodXI
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Yes I think so. I’m debating Kane or Son in this week.

      2. mynameisq
        • 8 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Yes marginally but is it worth a transfer, probably no, especially if not captaining son

        1. HurriKane
          • 9 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          maybe not but chasing upside you gotta take risks to get ahead i guess

          1. HurriKane
            • 9 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            NOR game could be a huge swing if Son(C) gets a huge haul and wolves keep salah quiet

            1. Baps hunter
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              2 months, 9 days ago

              I expect more from Brentford game. Nor has been able to keep clean sheets and they have new coach. But are Spurs going to be free scoring that keeps on attacking even if they lead 2-0? They could just start walking and
              keep on passing the ball.

      3. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        I at least hope so. Those fixtures at least look very good.

      4. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        I am actually considering having possibility to have both Son and Kane against Bre and Nor, but it looks a bit tricky, since even selling Antonio and Jesus is not enough to fund Kane. Yet, all it takes is one injury and one downgrade elsewhere. Another question is, if that gamble is going to be worth. Two braces from Kane in next two, and then yes. But one goal isn't going to be enough.

      5. Dammit_182
          2 months, 9 days ago

          Big fat yes. Look at it as a pairing though - for me it’s vardy & saka VS Wilson & Son (-4). Over next 4 I much prefer Wilson & son

        • Dexters Laboratory
          • 1 Year
          2 months, 9 days ago

          Definitely

        • isthoralive
            2 months, 9 days ago

            No, I think Vardy has the potential for more double digit hauls in that run, especially when on pens

        • Old Gregg
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          Ramsdale
          Cancelo-Taa-James-livra-Dias
          Salah-Foden-Mbeumo
          Antonio-Toney

          Havertz-Edouard-Normann

          Which move please -
          2FT. 2.9 ITb

          a) havertz + Toney > Hudson-odoi + Kane
          B) Dias + Havertz + Toney > Johnson + Jota + Kane (-4)
          c) havertz + Toney > Son + Wilson
          D) ) Dias + Havertz + Mbeumo > Lamptey + Jota + Son (-4)

          1. Dexters Laboratory
            • 1 Year
            2 months, 9 days ago

            One of the ones with Jota .. all comes down to whether you prefer Kane Vs Son

            1. Old Gregg
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 9 days ago

              Thanks.
              I think this is what I’m struggling with - Kane or Son

        • pundit of punts
          • 8 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          If you can pick one this gw -

          A. Kane
          B. Son

          1. Baps hunter
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            B

          2. mdm
            • 9 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            А as B is doubtfull with injury

            1. Weak Become Heros
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              2 months, 9 days ago

              Really? What happened?

              1. mdm
                • 9 Years
                2 months, 9 days ago

                Sustained minor knock with South Korea and didn't train today

                1. Weak Become Heros
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  2 months, 8 days ago

                  Thanks mate.

            2. dunas_dog
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              2 months, 9 days ago

              Where did you pick up that Son may be injured?

              1. mdm
                • 9 Years
                2 months, 9 days ago

                Twitter

            3. Hy liverpool
              • 8 Years
              2 months, 9 days ago

              If son is injured kane 2 points will be like a haul.

          3. Dexters Laboratory
            • 1 Year
            2 months, 9 days ago

            This is what keeps me up tonight.. this very minute I'm leaning A but the knock and hattrick is swaying me

          4. Old Gregg
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            I wish I had the answer.

            What I like about The Kane move it’s a easy swap to Ronaldo.

            Son is in better form (as such) and doesn’t want a move away.

        • Kodap
          • 4 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          My planned moves with 2FT are..

          Vardy > Jesus
          Gray > Jota

          Am I safe to make these now?

          1. dshv
            • 4 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            Gooo

          2. Dexters Laboratory
            • 1 Year
            2 months, 9 days ago

            Why not wait .. who knows what could happen

          3. Magic Zico
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            Hey you have stolen my plan 😆 go for it!

          4. isthoralive
              2 months, 9 days ago

              I’d wait until after all IB games no need for unnecessary hits just incase of covid/injur

            • Fabreghastly
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              2 months, 9 days ago

              No, you may find you have some priority transfers to do after the IB

          5. dunas_dog
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 6 Years
            2 months, 9 days ago

            I still have WC to play and thinking of switching Antonio to Wilson for good 3 home fixtures and getting Antonio back in week 16 WC? Good move or better just to hold Antonio through tougher fixtures?

            A Get Wilson and switch back to Antonio on WC in week 15/16
            B Hold Antonio

            1. Dammit_182
                2 months, 9 days ago

                You can get one hell of a team in with wildcard this week!

                Which 3 strikers are you considering? It’s your call but if your bought Antonio early and want to get him back maybe find away to just keep him?

                1. dunas_dog
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 6 Years
                  2 months, 9 days ago

                  Thanks- that is an issue as had since week 1. Don’t think need to WC though- team as looks likely to be set up next week is

                  Guaita
                  TAA James Cancelo Chilwell
                  Salah Raphinha Jota Mbeumo
                  Kane Antonio

                  Foster Livramento ESR Scarlett

                  1. Dammit_182
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      Yea, don’t WC that team!

                      Think it’s a case of ‘can’t own them all’.

                2. Dexters Laboratory
                  • 1 Year
                  2 months, 9 days ago

                  B .. Antonio looking like a strong Hold based on his stats

                3. Magic Zico
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  2 months, 9 days ago

                  I like swapping around so A. The only thing that stops me doing it is losing so much value on Antonio, got him since GW1.

                4. isthoralive
                    2 months, 9 days ago

                    I’d hold off, Antonio looks like he can score against anyone especially with how well the hammers are playing, wait until he gets his annual hamstring issues then swap

                5. Dexters Laboratory
                  • 1 Year
                  2 months, 9 days ago

                  Ramsdale Foster
                  TAA Cancelo James Livermento Duffy
                  Salah Foden Jota ESR Mbeuno
                  Kane Antonio Toney

                  Need to cut 1m from this team
                  A) Toney to Davis .. move Mbeuno to Gallagher next game week
                  B) Mbeuno to Brownhill.. stick with Toney

                  Leaning towards A but as always help appreciated

                  1. isthoralive
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      B, if you’re trying to create funds then might as well keep Toney for one more crack at Newcastle

                    • Magic Zico
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 3 Years
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      B

                    • dunas_dog
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 6 Years
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      B

                  2. Magic Zico
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 3 Years
                    2 months, 9 days ago

                    Which 2 would you pick out of (A) Jota, (B) Foden and (C) Son?

                    Son is much more expensive, I know.

                    It will be a swap with Vardy up top for Son option.

                    1. isthoralive
                        2 months, 9 days ago

                        Son and Jota

                    2. BrockLanders
                      • 6 Years
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      BREAKING: Son Heung Min has sustained a minor knock whilst on duty with South Korea — he didn't train today whilst they monitor his injury. [@realstevescores]

                      1. Zim0
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 3 Years
                        2 months, 9 days ago

                        Ohnoo a minor knock! Whatever will we do 😆

                        1. St Pauli Walnuts
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          • 3 Years
                          2 months, 8 days ago

                          Worry about him not starting at the weekend most likely

                    3. mackan
                      • 4 Years
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      Anyone considering lukaku?

                    4. Jack.Armstrong96
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 6 Years
                      2 months, 9 days ago

                      Any suggestions for my team going forward?

                      Sanchez Steele
                      TAA Cancelo Chilwell Livra Duffy
                      Salah Saka Raph Gray Sissoko
                      Jimi Kane Antonio

                      Was thinking:
                      A) Jimi + Gray to Hwang + Foden
                      B) Gray to Gallagher

                      Other suggestions also welcome