Liverpool will lose Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for next month’s African Cup of Nations, with Arsenal, Leicester and Crystal Palace all watching four stars depart
Premier League clubs are growing increasingly concerned about the safety of players going to the African Cup of Nations.
They have expressed concerns through the influential European Club Association because of the impact of coronavirus amid rising cases in England, infection rates in Cameroon and the danger of getting the virus while in transit.
It is understood the matter has been raised as another major factor and concern about the current Premier League fixture chaos with 16 of the 20 top flight clubs due to release to 40 players.
They are pushing for crisis talks with the tournament in Cameroon already reported to be in some doubt because of a lack of organisation and building work.
It has already been postponed twice but is now due to go ahead between January 9 and February 6 with most clubs hoping to keep their players until the round of Premier League fixtures on January 1 and 2.
Watford face losing Nigeria trio Peter Etebo, Emmanuel Dennis and William Troost-Ekong, Morocco’s Adam Masina, Senegal star Ismaila Sarr.
FIFA have been reluctant to get involved but it is now coming to a head this week and has been a hot topic among Premier League clubs who have already seen calls for a firebreak turned down to ease the current fixture chaos.
They have been arguing their current squads are already stretched and having to release players on top of genuine security concerns because of Covid and in Cameroon.
Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe has flown to Yaounde for talks with his organisation insisting it can go only go ahead with full reassurances.
Cameroon legend Samuel Eto’o, now president of his country’s FA, insisted it must go ahead and said that the Euros went ahead in the middle of a pandemic.
Eto’o said: “Why should it be played? The federation that I represent will strongly defend the competition. The Euros were played in the middle of the pandemic with full stadiums. Why shouldn’t we play? We must be clear on this aspect.”