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Three Premier League clubs that could benefit as Mali suffer shock AFCON exit

Three Premier League clubs that could benefit as Mali suffer shock AFCON exit

AFCON 2021 continues to provide one shock exit after another tonight when minnows Equatorial Guinea knocked Mali out of the competition on penalties and have unexpectedly reached the quarter-finals of the competition.

Equatorial Guinea (114th in the latest FIFA rankings) joins Gambia (150th) as the latest sub-100 to spring a surprise on their much higher-ranked opponent in the round of 16, and are set to face pre-tournament favourite Senegal in the next round.

But Mali’s exit, a nation that features star-studded midfield options, were hopeful of reaching the last-eight for the first time since 2013, could provide a number of Premier League clubs with a cadre of top-level players that could now be targeted for a January move before the window closes in less than a week. One of those is Brighton star Yves Bissouma.

Bissouma was linked with heavy interest from the biggest clubs in England over the summer after Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United all entertained the possibility of prizing him away from Graham Potter’s Seagulls, and interest could be set to heat up again after the player is now available to finalize a possible club change. Here are three clubs that could be set to benefit.

Newcastle United

Did you expect any other club to top the list of potential destinations? Newcastle United has already brought in both Chris Wood and Kieran Trippier this month and recent reports linking them with closing a shock move for Olympique Lyonnais standout Bruno Guimarães suggests a central figure is a key to their recruitment plans.

https://twitter.com/FabrizioRomano/status/1486337372736339970

But OL chief Jean-Michel Aulas quickly manoeuvred to dampen the rumours after the club released an official statement that stated no full agreement has been reached. If the Magpies miss out on the Brazilian international, then Bissouma could make for a credible backup option that comes with considerable Premier League experience.

Arsenal

Speaking of Guimarães, Arsenal was also linked with interest in the OL star but more importantly, has had a recent loan move for Juventus midfielder Arthur hit a major snag after the club hierarchy have been said to pass on the 18-month loan for the Brazilian after initially only keen on a 6-month deal until the end of the season.

Previously mooted as a transfer target before the club moved for RSC Anderlecht youngster Sambi Lokonga, Bissouma would offer everything that the club is presumably looking for in a central midfielder; technical quality blended with credible physical attributes while being the right age profile.

Manchester United

Three Premier League clubs that could benefit as Mali suffer shock AFCON exit

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Yves Bissouma of Brighton & Hove Albion breaks with the ball during the Premier League match between Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park on January 02, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Recent comments by Bissouma show just how confident he is in his ability when he gauges himself against the other top-echelon central midfielders in England, and that includes Manchester United star Paul Pogba. But what is also certain is that United has long been searching for central reinforcements given the lack of quality in options at Old Trafford.

At current, United interim boss Ralf Rangnick can realistically count on only Scott McTominay and Fred for his first-choice pairing until Pogba returns to full fitness, while Donny van de Beek is clearly on the outs at the club and Nemanja Matić on his final legs at 33 and with a year left after the current season. What better way for Bissouma to “put up or shut up” than to make the jump to United and help the Red Devils push forward.


This article was edited by Ben Browning.