Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech could miss a clutch of Chelsea games next season owing to Senegal and Morocco’s involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations next year.
The tournament, postponed from last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, is due to get underway in Cameroon on January 9 and run until February 6 where Mendy’s country, Senegal are among the favourites to go all the way and lift the trophy.
The tournament was set to be held in the summer of next year but due to unfavourable climactic conditions, it was moved back to its usual winter spot, which has long been a source of frustration for many Premier League managers.
Thomas Tuchel may well fell the effects of it next year as Mendy and also midfielder Hakim Ziyech are expected to depart for at least a month in the middle of a season where the Blues are expected to make a Premier League title charge.
Goalkeeper Mendy has emerged as a key player for Tuchel since his signing from Rennes last summer and while Ziyech hasn’t been a regular under the German, losing the depth in his squad of a player won’t be welcomed by Tuchel.
With the AFCON set to get underway on January 9, that means Mendy and Ziyech will certainly miss the huge clash away at Man City on January 15 and the visit of Spurs to Stamford Bridge on January 22 if they are called up.
An FA Cup third round tie will also be played during the duos time away with that slated for the first or second weekend of January.
Should either of their countries make the latter stages of the tournament than that also throws into doubt their participation for the Blues’ visit to Brighton on February 8. After that is a home game against Arsenal on February 12, just three days after the AFCON final.
Not only during the tournament but also before it, Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on New Year’s Day. Depending on when countries will call their players up for training camps to prepare for AFCON, that could be another game both Mendy and Ziyech could miss.
For Liverpool as well, they too could be affected for that with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane certain to be called up by Egypt and Senegal respectively.