Liverpool could be handed a massive boost to their Premier League title chances after reports have suggested the upcoming AFCON tournament could be shelved.
The AFCON is due to take place between January 9 – February 6. The tournament had twice been moved stemming from the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
That led to Cameroon being tasked with hosting the competition that would see many of the Premier League’s most high-profile African players leave their clubs for around a month.
Liverpool were due to suffer the biggest impact. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are shoe-ins for Egypt and Senegal respectively.
Naby Keita would have been selected for Guinea, while recent rumours even suggested Joel Matip could end his international exile and play for Cameroon with the tournament held in his home country.
However, the status of the tournament is now in serious doubt, according to Get French Football News.
Citing RMC, they state ‘concerns have grown’ in recent days over the Covid situation on the continent. Considerable travel from European-based players and movement from within Africa could see a surge in the number of cases detected.
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As such, the African Football Federation (CAF) will conduct a ‘review’ over whether the tournament should be cancelled following the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Egyptian journalist Ismael Mahmoud added further fuel to the fire. He suggested CAF are expected to announce the postponement of the tournament ‘indefinitely’.
If the competition were postponed, it would likely not be rescheduled for a third time. The Qatar-based World Cup in 2022 will be held during the winter months, thus cluttering the calendar around the period where AFCON tournaments are usually held.
Tricky contract clause could scupper Liverpool, Tottenham pursuit
Meanwhile, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City are all eyeing a deal for a recent Wolves signing, though a contract clause will cause frustration for all parties involved, per a report.
20-year-old Rayan Ait-Nouri joined Wolves on loan last year. He impressed enough to prompt Wolves to trigger an option to sign him from from Angers for £9.8m.
Ait-Nouri has forced his way into Lage’s plans this season, and was particularly impressive in Wolves’ narrow defeat to Manchester City last weekend. Now, given his age and rapid rise, it’s no surprise to see the Daily Mail report the vultures are already circling.
They state Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City are all monitoring the defender. From further afar, Barcelona and PSG have shown an interest. However, the presence of a clause within Ait-Nouri’s contract will frustrate all involved.
The article reveals former club Angers negotiated a ’50 percent sell-on clause’ into Ait-Nouri’s deal. As such, Wolves would lose out on a significant windfall if the defender were moved on.
That could therefore prompt Wolves to battle extra hard to drive his price up. That is something that could ultimately deter his suitors. Wolves are described as ‘keen to keep hold’ of the youngster. Though it’s admitted they face a ‘fight’ to do so.
One option open to Wolves could come in the form of buying out Ait-Nouri’s sell-on-clause.