Leicester could be big beneficiaries of African Nations Cup summer switch

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Leicester could benefit the most of any Premier League side from news that the African Nations Cup is to be held in the summer from 2019.

Data from the 2016/17 season suggests that Leicester would be well placed to be the biggest beneficiaries in terms of minutes played by African footballers, if the multi-national make-up of their squad remains similar.

During an African Nations Cup year, some teams have lost key footballers during January and February to the continental tournament, but now they will be able to hold onto them during the winter months.

With seven African players in total playing 9,116 Premier League minutes for the Foxes last season, no other Premier League team relied as heavily upon players from Africa.

Algeria international Riyad Mahrez played 2,837 minutes during the 2016/17 season, with Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Islam Slimani (Algeria), Yohan Benalouane (Tunisia), Ahmed Musa (Nigeria) and Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana) all playing too. Schlupp moved to Crystal Palace in mid-season.

West Ham’s African players recorded 5,461 minutes of Premier League playing time last season, a distant second from Leicester.

Liverpool placed fourth on the list after Joel Matip (Cameroon) and Sadio Mane (Senegal) played 4,702 league minutes between them. Egypt’s Mohamed Salah also arrived at Anfield this summer.

After Mane left Liverpool to attend the 2017 African Nations Cup in Gabon, Liverpool’s form tailed off drastically for several weeks.

Two teams, Burnley and newly-promoted Huddersfield, registered zero minutes played by African footballers last season.

Tottenham placed eighth on the list with just one African player. Kenyan Victor Wanyama played 3,016 minutes of Premier League football for the north London side who finished second in the league last season.

:: Minutes played by African footballers in the 2016/17 season, analysing teams who will start the new campaign in the Premier League:

Leicester – 9,116 minutes

West Ham – 5,461

Newcastle – 5,093

Liverpool – 4,702

Watford – 4,618

Crystal Palace – 4,452

Everton – 3,788

Tottenham – 3,016

Stoke – 2,920

West Brom – 2,637

Chelsea – 2,498

Manchester City – 2,470

Brighton – 2,203

Manchester United – 2,060

Swansea – 2,012

Southampton – 1,102

Arsenal – 694

Bournemouth – 123

Burnley – 0

Huddersfield – 0

:: Playing time calculated from publicly available data on soccerway.com

Source: PA

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