The African Cup of Nations is just around the corner, with La Liga’s African players on the verge of joining up with their countries to compete in the Ivory Coast. The tournament starts on the 13th of January, and runs until the 11th of February, which has caused no shortage of controversy too.
With increasingly little space in the football calendar, the tournament will finish just two days before the Champions League knockout stages, which could affect Real Sociedad in their clash against Paris Saint-Germain. The first leg at the Parc des Princes will take place on the 14th of February, and if Umar Sadiq (Nigeria) and Hamari Traore (Mali) go all the way, then they could be without two important players for that tie. In addition, Takefusa Kubo may only finish up a day before if Japan go all the way in the Asian Cup.
In terms of pure numbers, Almeria and Real Betis are the most affected sides, with three players missing each. Idrissu Baba (Ghana), Houboulang Mendes (Guinea-Bissau), Dion Lopy (Senegal) will see the Almeria lose three starters, while Betis could also lose Chadi Riad and Ez Abde to Morocco. Youssouf Sabaly has been injured, but if he also goes with Senegal, then it will further hurt their thin backline.
Rayo Vallecano (Bebe – Cape Verde, Pathe Ciss – Senegal), Celta Vigo (Jonathan Bamba – Ivory Coast, Joseph Aidoo – Ghana), Alaves (Jesus Owono – Equatorial Guinea, Abdel Abqar – Morocco), Valencia (Mouctar Diakhaby – Guinea, Selim Amallah – Morocco) and Las Palmas (Nuke Mfulu – DR Congo, Saul Coco – Equatorial Guinea) will all be missing two players a piece if they are all called up, although Aidoo will miss the tournament through injury.
Villarreal have also struggled with a thin defence, and Aissa Mandi is likely to see action with Algeria. Inaki Williams (Ghana) and Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco) stand out as major absences for Athletic Club and Sevilla respectively. Las Palmas have had one of the best defences in La Liga too, and Saul Coco will be tough to replace. Atletico Madrid will be without Reinildo Mandava, who will play for Mozambique, but he has only contributed 17 minutes to their cause this season due to injury.