Aston Villa must not overlook this potential issue this season…

The 31st edition of the African Cup of Nations will be held in Gabon early next year.

During this period, clubs from around the world lose the services of those African players who have been selected to play for their national team. Therefore, since Benin, Senegal and Ghana have all qualified for the tournament, it is highly like that Villa will lose Rudy Gestede, Andre Ayew and Idrissa Gueye for a period of time.

Villa have five games scheduled during the time scale in which the tournament is taking place.

Thus, if the aforementioned players stay at Villa for next season’s Championship campaign, their absence due to the African Cup of Nations could have a hugely negative impact on Villa’s season.

Ayew’s Ghana qualified for the tournament in some style and, as usual, they are one of the favourites for the competition. Therefore, if Ayew stays at Villa, it is highly likely that he will be absent for a period of at least two weeks. Ayew is expected to be a big threat in front of goal next season and his absence in three or four games could cost Villa a number of vital goals.

Gueye’s Senegal also qualified for the tournament in impressive fashion. They won all of their five games; scored 11 goals and conceded only two. Senegal, like Ghana, have the potential to go far in the competition and, therefore, like Ayew, if Gueye stays at Villa, he would likely also be absent for at least two weeks. Therefore, Villa will be without Gueye’s presence in the midfield and his ability to win back the ball for at least 3 or 4 Championship matches.

Gestede’s Benin qualified for the tournament as one of the two best overall runners-up. Unlike Ghana and Senegal, Benin are not expected to go that far in the tournament. Therefore, if Gestede is selected for the squad, it is likely that he will not be absent for as long as Ayew and Gueye. However, Villa will be without his strength and ability in the air for at least two games.

Therefore, when Di Matteo is thinking about possible transfers this summer it is imperative that he factors in the possibility that he could be missing three key African players for a number of games next season. This could become four if, for example, Di Matteo signs the Ivorian Jonathan Kodjia.

Therefore, Di Matteo must sign one or two strikers who will not be going to the African Cup of Nations. Otherwise, come the middle of January, Villa might end up with the situation where they only have Agbonlahor or an academy player to lead the line.

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