Arsenal face losing four players to January’s AFCON

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Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Elneny are set to miss a chunk of next season after their respective countries qualified for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon

Ghana and Egypt sealed their places at the tournament thanks to 1-1 draws with South Africa and Kenya, while Auba grabbed an assist and goal as Gabon beat DR Congo 3-0.

Nicolas Pepe’s Ivory Coast are also in line to qualify. They could go top of qualifier Group K with a win over Niger.

The 33rd edition of the AFCON was originally scheduled to take place this summer to bring it in line with other major tournaments. Its start date has since shifted twice.

Concerns about unfavourable climatic conditions saw organisers CAF bring it forward to January 2021 but due to coronavirus, it was decided to delay it for 12 months.

Assuming all four players are still on the books at Arsenal come the start of next season, the tournament is definitely going to provide Edu and Mikel Arteta with a headache.

This summer’s squad rebuild is complicated enough without the worry of covering absentees for potentially 4-6 weeks.

While Arsenal has a proud history of African players, the timing of the AFCON has been a cause for concern at the club for more than 15 years. As far back as 2004, Arsene Wenger said it was affecting the prospects of African players signing for major European clubs.

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Arsenal’s African internationals

Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)
Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)
Lauren (Cameroon)
Kaba Diawara (Guinea)
Quincy (Ghana)
Emmanuel Eboue (Ivory Coast)
Alex Song (Cameroon)
Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)
Emmanuel Frimpong (Ghana)
Armand Traore (Senegal)
Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
Christopher Wreh (Liberia)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
Thomas Partey (Ghana)
Mo Elneny (Egpyt)

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WayBackWhen

Thankful that Bukayo chose England.

Sancheezy

Yes, now if Saka could get England celebrity status, similar to Harry Kane, Arsenal too could have a penalty every other game 🤞🤞

Qwaliteee

Top post. Well said.

Runcorn Gooner

Ridiculous holding tournaments in the middle of the European seasons.

who pays their massive wages should have some say in the matter.

matt keeler

Would be worse if some idiots decided to hold one in the run-up to Christmas…oh wait

Maul Person

Maybe that’s why they chose to have it in Jan… to stick it to Europe who haven’t always been kind to African countries.

Or maybe it wasn’t that calculated. Maybe they just don’t care.

Public Elneny

Fair enough, but you could argue it hinders the careers of African players at high level European clubs Like if there are 2 similar ability/cost players but 1 is likely to miss a month or so at a busy time of the year every other season, that’s going to influence who you decide to sign and therefore their footballing development. Not to mention the disruption to form, fitness and selection chances being unavailable for a month in the middle of a season causes But then I’m not sure how feasible it is to hold a tournament in June/July due to… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

I think the decision was made to change to the (northern hemisphere) summer months previously with that in mind. The next tournament is scheduled for June 2023 in Ivory Coast , with the following one in June 2025 in Guinea, according to Wiki.

Isn’t it just the 2021 version that is being moved back to January (2022)?

Non flying dutchman

Maybe its because Cameroon is pretty near the equator and so summer isnt much of an option. Its not a new problem and its not one that will go away as its probably only a quarter to a third of countries on the continent where northern hemisphere summer is an option whether because the climate does allow or it can be mitigated. Not sure when world cup qualifiers will happen for them…presumably in the summer, i guess with the more prolonged nature of it making more of an option? Really does mean no proper break over the cause of several… Read more »

NorthernGooner

Indeed! How dare those poor nations around the world organise a tournament at a time that is convenient for them, without a thought for their wealthy overlords. Don’t they know their place?

No foot Norbert

Imagine playing football in 40 degree heat. Now imagine doing that 3 times a week plus training.

NorthernGooner

Sounds like a lot in this country but i would have thought that being born and raised there, they would be somehow used to the heat.

But my point was more to do with respecting their freedom to do things as when it was convenient for them.

Kentmonkey

Not trying to poke controversy here but….not everyone eligible to play for a country is ‘born and raised’ in that country.

And having spent some time in the Maldives and seeing how those ‘born and raised there’ still struggled to work in the intense heat, I don’t think anyone becomes immune to those conditions. I’m sure those conditioned to it deal with it slightly better, but it’s still hard work to do anything in that sort of heat.

Qwaliteee

What about respect for the clubs that pay their fucking salaries and keep them fit?

Oh so you’re supporting the club’s stance now are you Q? So your morality policing for a year was all just nonsense really?

You weren’t saying any of this when Özil was here and at loggerheads with the club. Or were Arsenal not paying Özil’s wages and “keeping him fit” then.

You’re just a joker 🃏. I can’t take you seriously

Qwaliteee

Ozil was dropped by Arteta – not the club. Had the club had a problem with that, they would have intervened. It was therefore both the choice of the manager and the club not to play him. It was not necessarily the choice of all the supporters. And it was not the choice of the player; Ozil clearly wanted to play and was, with the exception of training, refused the opportunity to carry out the execution of his job. Losing our players to AFCON is different. The decision has not come from the manager or the club. If players are… Read more »

Twatsloch

“wealthy overlords”

Those “wealthy overlords” have made millionaires out of many players from poor nations across the world. Should they not get a say as long as they are under contracted then?

NorthernGooner

What’s that got to do with the price of fish?

All clubs know about these potential issues when signing a player and I suppose they have relevant clauses written in their contracts.

Whatever they earn, and I agree it’s ridiculous, has nothing to do with this.

Twatsloch

I don’t have a problem with what they earn. I think it’s amazing that someone from a deprived background gets handsomely rewarded through an enterprise successful enough to pay them well for their talent.

What I object to is refering to their employers as a “wealthy overlord” who should just shut up as they traipse off to some international event mid season with all the potentials such spectacals can cause.

SarcasmB0t

If they don’t like it, they can lobby the leagues to have an international break during the tournament.

But no, we can’t have that, that would cut into the leagues’ profits.

Bryan

U just wrote rubbish

NorthernGooner

It’s only my opinion, but thank you for debating my point in such a deep and articulate way

Happy

It would have been good to know the wealthy country you are from. If you remove the Africans from the EPL we’d probably have a drab league not to talk of England scrambling to have the players of african descent in her team because of the value they bring to football

Crash Fistfight

Well, lots of people have complained about the idiocy of holding a World Cup in the heat of summer in Qatar. Maybe the same situation applies with the AFCON being played in summer (in the northern hemisphere).

Crash Fistfight

Just checked this, and apparently that was one of the reasons it was rescheduled.

I suppose they couldn’t reschedule to the following January, due to the World Cup!

No foot Norbert

Not everywhere in Africa is hot though so not everyone would be used to it.

Crash Fistfight

Not really sure what point you’re making. I’m saying it would be hotter in Cameroon in the summer, which is why it has been rescheduled. I’m not saying they’d be used to it – I’m saying the opposite.

Non flying dutchman

Others had said players would be used to the heat,q forgetting how different the climate is in temperate South Africa as opposed to tropical Cameroon

WayBackWhen

This is it. Based on average temps in June and July from the equator southwards is definitely feasible. Parts of West Africa would probably be OK (not dissimilar to Mexico in ’86 I think). Japan in 2018 would have been even hotter.

Probably feasible to have ACoN anywhere on the continent during June and July except North Africa, but that would be a big miss.

I think another reason was so it didn’t compete with other events such as the Euros or Olympics.

WayBackWhen

Proximity to the coast and altitude is also a factor.

Rod

I honestly did try to steer clear from the bigotry in the comments but come on gooners! These are professional players who are proud to play for their countries as any other player regardless of background. The club knew what signing them would entail, measured the pros and cons and still signed them. Besides the fact that ours opinions will make no difference to this fact why on earth with all the bigotry and racism flying around can we not just wish our players the best and hope they have a successful tournament and come back uninjured. Life is too… Read more »

No foot Norbert

I’m saying why it shouldn’t be played in the summer to clarify it’s too hot for elite sports.

No foot Norbert

And me saying not everywhere in Africa is hot is to say some teams might not be used to playing in hot weather so that point is pretty invalid..

Chamakhtrick

Came here fearing misguided eurocentrism… you did not disappoint, my friend :3

Qwaliteee

“Eurocentrism”…..?!!

🤣

David

I really want the players to represent their countries at international tournaments but the prospect of loose 3 key players for up 6 weeks is crippling. With 80% of all Ghana, Gabon and Ivory Coast national teams being made of of players from Europe on European calendars surely moving the tournament would be more beneficial to Afcon.

bob

I don’t think it’s as simple as that. There’s no doubt that the timing of AFCON is incompatible with many of the world’s top domestic leagues. As that is the pinnacle, professionally speaking, this no doubt limits the opportunities of some African players, as Arsene says. However, the AFCON also represents, at least to many players, the pinnacle at a personal level. To many, more important than club football, at least for a specific club. And its quite ridiculous to suggest that the should play the competition at the hottest part of the year, or anywhere other than in its… Read more »

Duny

Golden chance for Nelson and Martinelli and maybe Azeez

Kentmonkey

Nice, positive way to look at it.

Crash Fistfight

I’d play M’Bappe and Haaland instead. Maybe Camavinga in midfield, too.

Adika1991

What are you smoking in there? It seems like a good stuff ?

Sam

*Willian

Qwaliteee

No, we’ll have enough match day programme sellers by then….

loose_cannon

Frustrating but understandable and we’re not alone in this. Liverpool tend to lose Salah and Mane, Leicester tend to lose Iheanacho and Ndidi etc. Injuries permitting, we should be able to cope fine.

GraeB

Yup, that’s what you get by buying good footballers from around the world. If we just settled for British players or those who aren’t of international quality we could avoid this issue😏.

Premier league restarting on August 14 after an extended season and European Championships is more likely to cause us injury issues – but then African players won’t be in that.

matt keeler

European club football really should break for AFCON. No doubt they’ll be interull in March 2022. They could play those fixtures during the African tournament

No foot Norbert

Could coincide with a winter break but fifa execs are too rigid to think.

Crash Fistfight

Wouldn’t it be down to the individual associations to organise winter breaks? European qualifying would be down to UEFA, no?

AMN's cheeky grin

There’s no monetary benefit in FIFA doing it, so they won’t.

AFCON isn’t marketable enough outside Africa to make it worth anyone’s while financially to pause European seasons for it. But I agree it would be the sensible thing to do sporting wise, and surely would be possible to arrange if everyone wanted to.

Ricardo Ballclump

I suppose we knew it was happening, so will have to cope.

Papa Johnusnus

Didn’t you forget Hatem Trabelsi on that list.

Magneto

Whilst he may have had a trial at Arsenal at some point, he never actually signed for us, nor played for the first team.

So he doesn’t qualify for the list.

Crash Fistfight

I don’t get it your post was supposed to be humorous or not.

Auba auba Laca Partey

We’ll only miss Partey as Auba and Elneny will be sold this summer to raise money for Laca new contract and snatch off Odegaard from Evil RM!

DB10s airmiles

Hahaha

Adika1991

Auba will stay, He’s old now. Nobody want him.

Teryima Adi

Ibrahimovich is old, too.

Non flying dutchman

Zlatan never relied on pace

Qwaliteee

…..which is why PSG were making enquiries about him last May…

Baichung Bhutia

I wonder where we will be in the league in January next season. Title contenders? Top four? Top six? Or 10th with a new manager?

Qwaliteee

Or 10th with the same manager….

Twatsloch

So only four players who we’ve paid in the region of 200 million for of which three are major players for us.

Well Never mind, eh? Have em lads! Fancy another jolly in Feb or March too by any chance?

Crash Fistfight

Well, the decision was made in 2020 to move the tournament to January 2021, so the club knew that they’d likely lose Pepe and Partey before they’d been signed. You can’t complain after the fact.

Just a shame that Gabon have somehow qualified. The good thing about Auba playing for them was that they’re usually too crap to qualify for any tournament.

Biggles

So we didn’t know when we signed them that they could be involved in these kind of tournaments? If that’s true then surely question should be asked? If we did know (as obviously we did) we can hardly complain when it happens, can we?

The bottom line (but certainly not one I’d support) is if we don’t want to run the risk of losing players in these circumstances, don’t sign them.

Twatsloch

What’s the answer then? We stop signing players altogether or the various and all too powerful football associations world wide have a rethink and try and work with clubs to come up with something more workable?

Biggles

Given this has been a “concern” for 15 years I suggest it’s unlikely to be changed any time soon. Nobody (I hope) is suggesting that clubs don’t sign any players – the article is about players involved in AFCON. It’s a balance between reward and risk. Do we get more from the players when they are playing for us (which is the vast majority of their time) against the loss of said players for a period when AFCON comes along. I’m firmly in support of the former. This isn’t solely an Arsenal problem by any means and surely the answer… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

Your answer is far too boring. We must have an argument about this from either side, grrr!

Biggles

How about this:

“As it’s potentially damaging to our prospects at a vital time in the season, the club should withdraw all the players involved in AFCON immediately. So there!”

Qwaliteee

I can live with that. Best post you’ve put up for some time, Biggs. 🤣👍

DPK

Absolutely. What is the point of logic & nuance to football fans ? Football fans on the internet no less ! Take an extreme position & don’t relent one bit. The one thing we can all agree on surely is that taking that approach is working out beautifully.

Crash Fistfight

Yes, equally so across every issue, in fact, not just football.

Crash Fistfight

Thing is, it had been changed, as they had decided to move the tournament to the summer months, but then decided to move the 2021 version back to winter (and now have had to move it to 2022).

onenil

Its not exactly a jolly is it? They are footballers going to represent their countries in a major international tournament

Twatsloch

And I’m sure they’ll have a jolly old time doing it. Myself I don’t care much for these international breaks anymore. Even less so when they cost us three major players mid season.

yen

Watched the video in the link and it’s amusing how it’s obvious the quality of opposition is something else compared to PL as Aubameyang is finding himself in situations he normally doesn’t

Biggles

But this isn’t a new problem as the article mentions. If clubs sign players likely to be involved in such tournaments they must accept, as we have to in this case, that there’s a prospect of losing them at potentially “difficult” times. All the clubs with players involved in the tournament have the same problem so we’ll just have to get on with it. That’s what the squad is there for after all.

Qwaliteee

Why the actual fuck can’t they hold the competition during the summer every two years alongside the Euros…..?

How many fucking Premiership points has it now cost this club because some of our best players have been missing for vital games – and risking serious injury into the bargain?
It must run into three figures now.

Jefferson

It all depends on the climate of the country hosting it.

It was originally scheduled to be hosted in the European summer but the climate condition of Cameroon is temperate at that time of the year and prospect of hosting a major African tournament in that much heat isn’t at all feasible. That’s why it was pushed back to January.

Countries with much more favourable climatic conditions at that time of the year (Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria) could host it at such times

Kostas

Thumbs up if you tried to create the ultimate 11 of the aforementioned players….
Pro evolution habbits

Public Elneny

GK – Kanu (he’s tall)

RB – Lauren
CB – Toure
CB – Song (decent there a few times)
LB – Eboue (surely still a better LB than Traore)

CM – Partey
CM – Elneny

RW – Pepe
CAM – Iwobi
LW – Auba

CF – Adebayor (controversial I know)

Qwaliteee

Kanu in goal 🤣👍

Qwaliteee

Why don’t you play Eboue on the left side of midfield…? Arsene did……😜🤣

dazza84

I think this rules out any potential pursuit of Bissouma. Seeing as Mali have also qualified there is no way we could afford to have 3 CM’s away for a couple of months during the season.

Crash Fistfight

I don’t understand the attraction to Bissouma in the first place. We need a more athletic version of Xhaka, not a less creative version of Partey.

dazza84

That’s a fair point. I notice on fbref that both Partey and Xhaka scores much higher on progressive passes and carries per 90. All Bissouma’s best stats are very much on the defensive side of things so we would lose a bit going forward with him in the team.

Crash Fistfight

I mean, I haven’t looked at any stats, but looking at him play I just don’t see him as progressive at all.

I mentioned on another article that I’d watched Southampton vs Brighton and thought Ibrahima Diallo was a far more interesting player (I’m not sure his stats are that great, and that is the first time I’d heard of him, let alone seen him play, so that could easily just be a snap judgement that isn’t accurate in the long term).

Torterrier

I would have thought we will have sold Elneny by then.And hopefully Auba is a good back-up for a younger striker.

Jean Ralphio

Such a disadvantage for African players hoping for a move to Europe

ATLGooner

What is the most number of players we have missed at the same time due to AFCON? Surely 4 has got to be up there.

allezkev

Interesting post, surprised that there aren’t any comments on it.

allezkev

I post the above and 64 pop up?

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Might have to start next season with a midfield of Xhaka and Guendouzi

AFCON starts in January….

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Of course

allezkev

Great result by the under 18’s today

Santi carthola

The same Wenger who bought Gervinho after scouting him at AFCON