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How long will Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita be at AFCON?

Liverpool will not be counting down the days until they have to release Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Salah is Egypt’s best player and his country’s hopes of success heavily ride on him performing at the level he has been for the Reds this season, with the Egyptian being labelled as the best player on the planet based on current form.

Sadio Mane has similar importance to Senegal although they also have Ismaila Sarr, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye and others.

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Naby Keita will also need to carry Guinea’s chances of making it out of the group stages.

The initial belief was that Liverpool would only miss their three African stars for just two Premier League games against Brentford and Crystal Palace.

The tournament is scheduled to take place between January 9 and February 6 and if Egypt, Senegal or Guinea make the final then Klopp will be without at least one of his players for close to a month.

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According to the Athletic, Liverpool could actually be without the three players for up to eight games – six Premier League games and two FA Cup ties.

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This is because those selected to represent their countries could leave before the tournament starts to prepare for the competition and may well be required to leave before Liverpool’s Boxing Day clash with Leeds United.

If this happened, Jurgen Klopp would be without three of his most important players for Premier League games against Leeds, Leicester, Chelsea, Brentford, Crystal Palace and, depending on when they return, they could miss the return fixture against Leicester as well.

Add the two FA Cup games in and Liverpool may well need to navigate arguably the most important month in any title challenge without his best attackers.

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This is further exacerbated by the fact that Liverpool face Chelsea during that period and with just three points currently separating the two sides, that’s set to be an important Premier League title clash.

Eduoard Mendy, Mane’s compatriot, will also travel for the tournament and he would be a miss for the Blues but not nearly as much as Klopp will miss Mane, Salah and Keita.

Liverpool are in a sticky position and they may be forced into making an emergency signing in the winter transfer window but they need to act quickly because they would need to sign and register the new attacker on the very first day of January to ensure he was able to play for the Reds.

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