AFCON: Eight most exciting players to watch including Liverpool duo and Man Utd star

Premier League transfer round-up: Aston Villa agree loan move for Philippe Coutinho

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The delayed 2021 African Cup of Nations gets underway in Cameroon on Sunday, and it goes without saying that there will be plenty of talent on show. Express Sport identifies eight players, four Premier League and four non-Premier League, to watch throughout the eagerly anticipated tournament.

Hannibal Mejbri (Manchester United, Tunisia)

Hannibal Mejbri is one of the most exciting teenage talents on Manchester United’s books and made his senior debut at Wolves last season.

He has displayed his enormous potential for club and country since joining in a £9million deal from AS Monaco in 2019.

Hannibal recently starred for Tunisia at the Arab Cup, starting all five games and winning two Man of the Match awards on the nation’s route to the final.

Ismaila Sarr (Watford, Senegal)

Ismaila Sarr will be a more familiar name with regular Premier League and Championship viewers due to his exciting exploits at Watford in recent seasons.

The 23-year-old’s pace, skill and ability to cut onto his left foot and produce a deadly finish undoubtedly makes him one to watch in an exciting Senegal team.

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Sadio Mane (Liverpool, Senegal)

On the opposite wing to Sarr over the next month will be Champions League and Premier League winner Sadio Mane.

The 29-year-old’s prowess in the final third speaks for itself and he could be a genuine contender for the competition’s Golden Boot award.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt)

However, it’d be no surprise if that was snatched away from him by his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah.

‘The Egyptian King’ has arguably been Europe’s best footballer over the past 12 months and has produced numbers this season that Lionel Messi would’ve been proud of in his prime.

After stamping his mark on the Premier League and Champions League this term, he’ll be eyeing AFCON glory to strengthen his bid for the 2022 Ballon d’Or award.

Achraf Hakimi (PSG, Morocco)

Achraf Hakimi has flourished into one of Europe’s top right-backs in recent seasons and is undoubtedly the star name among the Morocco squad.

The PSG superstar has scored the third-most goals out of all 28 players representing the nation at AFCON.

Sebastien Haller (Ajax, Ivory Coast)

Many would’ve thought Sebastien Haller was already on a career decline after failing to impress at West Ham United and joining Ajax.

However, he looks as dangerous as ever in front of goal this season and ended the Champions League group stage as top goalscorer with 10 strikes in five starts.

With 16 goal involvements in 17 Eredivisie games, too, he’s one to watch in the race for the Golden Boot.

Bamba Dieng (Marseille, Senegal)

Bamba Dieng could be in with a shout of being the breakout star of this year’s AFCON after breaking into the Marseille first team.

The 21-year-old has netted four times in seven Ligue 1 starts this season and will be looking to combine with Mane and Sarr in a dangerous attacking trio.

Sekou Koita (RB Salzburg, Mali)

You may not have heard of him yet, but you will have heard of Sekou Koita after AFCON is wrapped up.

This season, the Malian forward will have brought nightmares of Erling Haaland’s dominance back to Austrian Bundesliga defenders.

He has scored 14 goals and registered four assists in 18 league games, and, as Haaland did, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move into one of Europe’s top leagues very soon.

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