Top African Players in the Premier League to Play at 2023 AFCON
With the 2023 African Cup of Nations drawing near, most of the international players appearing in the Premier League will be absent, representing their countries. However, since this is not a European competition, national leagues in Europe are not going to make a special exception for this competition. Meaning that all leagues, especially the Premier League will go on as intended.
Being that the 2023 AFCON competition is taking place between 13. January and 11. February of 2024 also means that many Premier League teams will be missing out on some of their most important players. Today we want to highlight the African players in the Premier League and how their absence will impact their team’s performance.
Mohamed Salah – Egypt (Liverpool)
Even now, Mohamed Salah is one of the best African Players in Premier League history. He has scored a total of 150 goals and provided 66 assists to his teammates. During his tenure in England, he has won the Premier League trophy once. He also earned the Golden Boot award three times, was the playmaker of the season once, and also won the Best Player Award in 2017/18.
Jurgen Klopp is going to be having sleepless nights without Salah during AFCON. Mo is Liverpool’s top producer this season with 11 goals and 7 assists. He is integral to the team’s offence. Unless some other players in the attack step up, they are going to be struggling to keep up with Arsenal and Man City in the title race.
Mohammed Kudus – Ghana (West Ham United)
After joining the Hammers from Ajax this season, Kudus has emerged as a prolific scorer for the team. He may be only 23, but he has adapted to life in the Premier League like a fish to water. He has produced five goals and a single assist this season. Kudus has actually pushed West Ham’s offence to new heights in the absence of the injured Michail Antonio.
Kudus is going to be playing an integral part in the Ghana national team. The Black Stars usually perform well at each AFCON competition and even have the strength to go all the way. If that happens, West Ham are going to be struggling to replace his production on the field.
Abdoulaye Doucoure – Mali (Everton)
The Mali midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure, has been one of the more steady African players in the Premier League. However, this season has seen him elevate his performance to heights that he has not been able to produce before. In 17 games, he has already scored six goals for the Toffees and been instrumental in their offence.
Everton has had to endure a 10-point dedication this season. It caused them to drop to the last place in the Premier League. Somehow, Sean Dyche has had his team playing like world-beaters, with Doucoure being an important piece of the puzzle. Mali does have a good team and could make it deep into the competition. But they are not seen as somebody who could lift the title. Something that the Everton fans are going to be happy about.
Nicolas Jackson – Senegal (Chelsea)
Chelsea are not having the season that they were hoping for. They find themselves in mid-table at the half mark of the season. Nicolas Jackson was brought in from Villarreal to be their starting centre forward. Life in England started rather slowly for him. It took him a while to adapt to the physicality of the league.
Nevertheless, he managed to find his form, score seven goals and provide a single assist for the Blues. These stats are not something to scream about. But Mauricio Pochettino will need any available player that he can get his hands on. The medical centre in Chelsea has been running non-stop this season.
Jackosn will be representing Senegal at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. But at the age of 22, he is still not an established presence in the national team. Maybe this is the time for him to shine and show exactly how much he is worth.
Andre Onana – Cameroon (Manchester United)
Man Utd will be missing their number one shot-stopper as Andre Onana is set to depart for the 2023 AFCON competition. Ten Hag will have to rely on the efforts of the Turkish goalkeeper Altay Bayindir in Onana’s absence. However, many don’t see this as a bad thing, as Onana has been having one of the worst seasons in his career. The Red Devils are not in the top four and have been struggling game in and game out.
Much of the disappointment for the season came with Andre Onana’s efforts between the posts. He has not been what the fans expected him to be. A break from Premier League football might do him good. He will be playing for his home country of Cameroon as the Indomitable Lions are aiming for another Africa Cup of Nations title. This means that he might even be away for the entirety of the tournament.
Taiwo Awoniyi – Nigeria (Nottingham Forest)
Taiwo Awoniyi is one of five Nigerian players in the Premier League this season. But he is definitely the one who has made the most impact, at least prior to his injury. He ended the previous season with 10 goals for Forest. This season has already managed four goals and one assist.
However, injuries prevented him from being even more prolific in front of goal. The groin injury that he sustained might be severe enough to prevent him from appearing at AFCON altogether. Nevertheless, if he does become match-fit until January, he will be facing an onslaught of prolific players in the Nigerian forward line.
The Super Eagles probably have the most talented attackers in Africa. If Awoniyi does make it to the tournament, he will have to compete against the likes of Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman and even Samuel Chukwueze for a spot upfront.
Bryan Mbeumo – Cameroon (Brentfrord)
In the absence of Ivan Toney, Bryan Mbeumo has emerged as the number-one scoring option for the Bees. In 15 games this season, he has produced 10 goal contributions by bagging in seven goals and providing three assists.
He has been the most reliable scoring option for Thomas Frank this season. Missing him for a month will be a tremendous blow for a side that has been struggling to produce the same results as last season.
However, chances are that Bryan will be out for an extended period of time, having sustained an ankle injury. This does not only mean that the Bees are going to have to make do without him but Cameroon as well. Rigobert Song does not have a lot of prolific scoring options. So this could be a massive blow for his side during AFCON.
Nayef Aguerd – Morocco (West Ham United)
Ever since the 2022 World Cup, Nayef Aguerd has managed to show the world how excellent of a defender he actually is. Since then, he has been irreplaceable in David Moyes’ backline. Making 16 appearances this season and managing two clean sheets with one goal scored.
Aguerd is arguably a very underrated player. So his absence off the field will most certainly cause the side to backpedal a bit. He slides in well in the Walid Regragui system in the Moroccan national side. His sturdy defence is where the style of the Atlas Lions comes from. Morocco are seen as one of the favourites to go all the way. So we might not see him back until February in the Premier League.
Alex Iwobi – Nigeria (Fulham)
Even with all the firepower upfront that the Super Eagles have, Alex Iwobi has been an irreplaceable part of the national side. He plays up wide or in the central midfield, which allowed him to make 66 appearances and score 10 goals for Nigeria. He might not be the most prolific Nigerian player in the Premier League, but he is an important part of the national squad.
This season, he has made 15 appearances for Fulham, grabbing three goals and one assist in the process. The Cottagers are currently going through a renaissance. They scored 16 goals in five games, and they are going to be needing Iwobi for this crucial time of the season.
With him in the lineup, Fulham have won five games, three in the past five. It is going to be hard to find a replacement for him in the starting 11. Especially if the Super Eagles go deep into the competition.