In 2017 AFCON organizers rescheduled the tournament to be held over June and July in Egypt 2019. This decision was welcomed by EPL clubs as it meant the tournament would not interrupt their fixtures.
In 2019 the new format was implemented as Egypt hosted the tournament from 21 June to 19 July.
Temperatures in Egypt reached well over 32 degrees Celcius during the tournament and had a negative effect on the players.
This AFCON’s host nation Cameroon has forecasted the same high temperatures over that period forcing organizers to reevaluate their decision.
They ultimately decided that it was in the best interest of the players and tournament change the dates back to the beginning of the year to 9 January 2021- 6 February 2021.
This has caused a lot of concerns in the EPL as it means African players will be recalled for national duty at a crucial time of the EPL season.
As already witness this 2019-20 season, most teams succumb to a lot of injuries during the hectic festive season fixtures and are already short on players as the second half of the season resumes in January.
Even the players that participate will not be at top form upon returning to their clubs after participating in the grueling AFCON tournament.
With players missing between 6 to 8 weeks due to the tournament and training camp, club managers are forced at times to take this into consideration when deciding whether to sign on African players.
Former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp reiterated how AFCON can affect African Player prospects at a club going on to say the following to Sport Today:
“You’ll suddenly lose players for six to eight weeks because they will go away to a training camp before,”
“When you’re signing players, you do look at it and if they’re going away to the Cup of Nations, sometimes you think: ‘I’ll give this one a miss.’
The following is a list of clubs and players, supplied by BBC Sport, that would be affected by AFCON should all the teams qualify:
Arsenal – Pierre-Emerick Aubmaeyang (Gabon), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt – currently on loan at Besiktas)
Aston Villa – Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe), Trezeguet (Egypt), Jonathan Kodjia (Ivory Coast), Ahmed Elmohamady (Egypt)
Brighton – Leon Balogun (Nigeria), Yves Bissouma (Mali), Gaetan Bong (Cameroon), Percy Tau (South Africa – currently on loan at Club Brugge)
Crystal Palace – Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Everton – Alex Iwobi (Nigeria), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast), Oumar Niasse (Senegal), Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo – currently on loan at Sporting Lisbon)
Leicester City – Kelechi Ịheanachọ (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Islam Slimani (Algeria – currently on loan at Monaco), Rachid Ghezzal (Algeria – currently on loan at Fiorentina)
Liverpool – Naby Keita (Guinea), Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal).
Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Manchester United – Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Newcastle – Christian Atsu (Ghana), Henri Saivet (Senegal)
Southampton – Moussa Djenepo (Mali), Sofiane Boufal (Morocco), Mario Lemina (Gabon – currently on loan at Galatasaray)
Tottenham – Victor Wanyama (Kenya), Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)
Watford – Isaac Success (Nigeria), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
West Ham – Arthur Masuaku (DR Congo)
Wolves – Romain Saiss (Morocco)