Should FPL managers transfer Salah out & which other Premier League stars will be missing for Afcon 2021?

The Liverpool forward is the highest-scoring player in Fantasy Premier League but could be absent for as many as three Premier League games Liverpool will have to cope without Mohamed Salah for potentially as long as a month over January and February, with Fantasy Premier League bosses also being hit hard. Salah has comfortably been the most selected player in FPL, with the 29-year-old having delivered 177 points up to now – 45 more than his nearest challenger, team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold. So is it time to cash in and bring in an alternative or keep him and rely on the rest of your squad? GOAL considers the options for a possible replacement and lists the other Premier League stars who will be absent in the coming weeks. Salah is one of a number of Premier League-based players that have been selected by their national teams to feature at the 2021 Afcon tournament, thus rendering him unavailable to play for Liverpool. The Africa Cup of Nations takes place between January 9 and February 6 and will be staged in Cameroon, with Salah, who will be representing Egypt, having now left Liverpool to join up with his international team-mates. Date Match Competition January 9 Liverpool vs Shrewsbury FA Cup January 13 Liverpool vs Arsenal Carabao Cup January 16 Liverpool vs Brentford Premier League January 20 Arsenal vs Liverpool Carabao Cup January 23 Crystal Palace vs Liverpool Premier League February 10 Liverpool vs Leicester Premier League Jurgen Klopps side will have to do without Salah for the FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury on January 9, with the 29-year-old also absent for both legs of the Reds Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal. As for the Premier League, Salah is set to miss games against Brentford and Crystal Palace, while he could also be unavailable for the meeting with Leicester on February 10, should Egypt advance to at least the semi-finals of the competition. Barring any injury or other external circumstances, and on the basis of Egypt making it to the last four, the former Roma and Chelsea star could be ready for the clash with Burnley on February 13, in FPL Gameweek 25. However, it is possible that he will require a period of rest, too. All of this, of course, is reliant on Premier League matches going ahead as planned, which is proving extremely difficult to predict as games across the country continue to be postponed amid Covid-19 outbreaks. The question of whether to sell Salah will be at the forefront of many FPL managers minds ahead of Gameweek 22, with there plenty of time to weigh up the decision before the January 14 changes deadline. At the time of writing, almost one million FPL bosses have decided to transfer out Liverpools talisman, which will continue to affect his price. Indeed, Salahs value has already dropped by £0.3 million to £12.8m over the last couple of weeks, the lowest its been since Gameweek 8. Therefore, it doesnt make much sense to keep hold of Salah, who is still the most expensive player in the game, but it will be important to sell him with a clear strategy of making sure hes back in your team when hes available for Liverpool once again. Transferring out Salah will free up a significant amount of funds, with plenty of midfield options available for FPL managers to consider ahead of Gameweek 22. Heung-Min Son was proving the most popular replacement for the Egyptian – over 375k having brought him in at the time of writing – but Antonio Conte has confirmed hell likely miss the rest of January due to injury so its back to the drawing board. Salahs Liverpool team-mate Diogo Jota, however, is an appealing alternative. The Portuguese costs significantly less than Salah and Son and, with Sadio Mane also away on Afcon duty, he will become even more pivotal to Klopps attack ahead of favourable matches against the likes of Brentford (H), Crystal Palace (A) and Leicester (H). Now might also be a good time to consider bringing in Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian has been influential for Pep Guardiolas table-topping Manchester City side of late – avoiding Pep roulette having started the last five league matches in a row – and has delivered 36 points since mid-December. Other more budget options include Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, while the injury to Son means that Lucas Moura could be a decent shout ahead of Tottenhams double gameweek against Arsenal (H) and Leicester (A). Club Players at Afcon Arsenal Aubameyang (Gabon), Partey (Ghana), Pepe (Ivory Coast), Elneny (Egypt), Rekik (Tunisia) Aston Villa Traore (Burkina Faso), Trezeguet (Egypt) Brentford Onyeka (Nigeria) Brighton Bissouma (Mali) Burnley Cornet (Ivory Coast) Chelsea E.Mendy (Senegal) Crystal Palace Ayew (Ghana), Kouyate (Senegal), Zaha (Ivory Coast) Everton Iwobi (Nigeria) Leicester Ndidi (Nigeria), Iheanacho (Nigeria), N.Mendy (Senegal) Liverpool Keita (Guinea), Mane (Senegal), Salah (Egypt) Manchester City Mahrez (Algeria) Manchester United Bailly (Ivory Coast), Hannibal (Tunisia) Southampton Djenepo (Mali) Watford Sarr (Senegal), Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Masina (Morocco), Louza (Morocco) West Ham Benrahma (Algeria) Wolves Saiss (Morocco) A significant number of Premier League players have been called up for Afcon and will therefore be unavailable in Englands top flight for a period of two to three games. As well as Salah, Liverpool will be without Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, while league leaders Manchester City will have to do without Riyad Mahrez for a spell, as he features for Algeria at the tournament in Cameroon. Chelsea are also affected as they have seen first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy join up with Senegal, while Eric Bailly will be absent from Manchester United as he represents Ivory Coast. Arsenal, meanwhile, will be without as many as four first-team players as Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who GOAL confirmed had tested positive for Covid-19 on January 6 – have all headed to Cameroon. Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich and Tottenham are the four Premier League clubs who will not have any players featuring at Afcon.

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