Mirror Football takes a look at seven stars set to play at the Africa Cup of Nations who could crop up on the transfer radar of some of the Premier League’s big hitters
Whilst some Premier League managers such as Jurgen Klopp have been vocal in their disappointment at losing some of their top stars, others will take the opportunity to mould their future transfer plans around the tournament.
A clutch of top players are likely to emerge from the tournament with transfer interest if they manage to impress on the international stage.
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The Ivorian powerhouse has starred in Serie A for Milan over the past couple of years but he could be on the move sooner rather than later.
Kessie is now inside the final few months of his current deal at the San Siro – meaning he’s free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from New Years Day.
Given the extensive interest shown in Kessie from Manchester United and Liverpool in recent months, it would make sense for two of the Premier League’s big-hitters to keep a close eye on Kessie during next month’s tournament.
Arsenal and Tottenham have also been credited with an interest in the 25-year-old.
Napoli powerhouse Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League before, is another player likely to be of interest to Premier League scouts when he turns out for Senegal in Cameroon in a fortnights time.
The 30-year-old is now in the final 18 months of his contract at Napoli – who could be open to cashing in on their defensive lynchpin if the price is right.
Manchester United have previously been linked with a move for the centre half, who is also reportedly on the transfer radar of Chelsea.
Amadou Haidara’s name has cropped up on Manchester United’s transfer radar, according to reports this month.
United’s desire for a top midfielder to resolve their engine room deficiency has been well-documented, and Haidara, who has starred for RB Leipzig this season, could fit the bill.
The 23-year-old is set to star for Mali in next month’s AFCON.
Emmanuel Dennis’ arrival at Watford in the summer hardly set pulses racing in the Premier League.
But the Nigerian hotshot has made a stunning start to life in England; emerging as one of the top flight’s best signings so far this season.
The deal to bring Dennis to Vicarage Road may have flown under the radar, but, with eight goals in just 16 Premier League appearances, the 24-year-old’s stint in Hertfordshire already seems destined to be short.
The striker’s agent claimed earlier this month that United and Arsenal were both keen on striking a deal for Dennis in the past – only for his former team, Club Brugge, to price the Premier League duo out of a deal.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either or them reignite their interest given Dennis’ stunning start to life in England. And starring for the Super Eagles on the international stage would only strengthen the prospect of one of the Premier League’s big boys making a summer swoop for Watford’s unlikely talisman.
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Watford’s wing-wizard Ismaila Sarr won’t be a stranger to any of the Premier League’s big-hitters.
Sarr has been Watford’s standout player since he arrived in Hertfordshire from Rennes in a club-record deal.
The speedster has been the subject of interest from both Liverpool and Manchester United in the past – although neither side has firmed up that interest with a concrete proposal for the Hornets to mull over.
Sarr, who has netted five times in 12 league games already this season, is currently sidelined with a knee ligament injury but is expected to jet off to Cameroon for next month’s tournament with Senegal.
With the long-term futures of Liverpool’s first-choice attacking contingent still unclear, the Reds could decide to finally pull the trigger on a move for Sarr if he can back up his credentials on the international stage next month.
Villarreal‘s exciting young Nigerian winger Samuel Chukwueze is likely to be one of the most-watched players in the AFCON tournament.
The 22-year-old winger has excelled in La Liga for the Spanish outfit since progressing through the club’s academy.
Chukwueze, who has netted five times in 16 appearances for Villarreal this term, has previously been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.
Liverpool appear to have moved on in their search for attacking reinforcements – but an impressive tournament for Chukwueze could test that stance ahead of next summer.
It’s not out of the question that another Premier League club could be enticed into making a move for the Villarreal attacker if the likes of Liverpool and United decide that Chukwueze isn’t ready for a big move just yet.
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The 27-year-old has been on fire for the Dutch giants since they snapped him up from the Hammers for just a fraction of the reported club-record £45million fee that the Londoners paid to bring Haller to the London Stadium.
Haller has notched a remarkable 22 goals in just 24 games for Ajax this term – and he could put himself back on the transfer radar of Premier League clubs if he has an impressive AFCON.
With a host of top Premier League clubs expected to be in the market for a new forward next summer, it’s not out of the question for Haller to make a swift return to England.