Man City spent quite a lot of money purchasing players from their EPL rivals on the basis that it will strengthen their own squad while weakening their rivals. Among the players Man City bought were Arsenal duo Emmanuel Adebayor, a Togolese, and Kolo Toure, an Ivorian. But are clubs seeing top African players as a liability due to fact they will be missing for two weeks in the middle of season due to the African Cup of Nations?
Unlike other continental tournaments, the African Nations Cup is held every two years during the winter (probably because it would suck playing in Africa during the summer monsoon). Since it is held the middle of the European season, top African players would leave their clubs for three weeks. For teams with injury or depth issues, it could be a great blow to their seasons. Because it is held every two years, African players have more qualifiers to play every year than their non-African teammates.
Is there evidence of clubs selling players because of African cup of Nations? Other than the Arsenal transfers, the most notable transfer involves Barcelona giving away Samuel Etoo, a Cameroonian, and a lot of money for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swede.
On the other hand, for some clubs who are signing these players, the talent of African players far outweigh their liability come late-January and early-February next year.
I believe it would serve African players’ interests if the tournament was moved to the summer and in odd-numbered years as not to clash with the World Cup. Africa is a great pool for talent and smaller clubs would need to look for bargains in the continent if they were to compete with the elite clubs.
Making the African Cup of Nations go with the flow of the international schedule would make African players more valuable.