Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Ten players to watch at the tournament, including Liverpool stars and Arsenal and Manchester United targets

The footballing world will turn its attention to Egypt on Friday as the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway.

The hosts kick things off against Zimbabwe in the first edition of the biennial tournament to be held during the summer months, following the decision to move it from January/February.

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Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mo Salah will both feature
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With no domestic football to distract from the competition, it provides an excellent opportunity for stars to shine, especially with the summer transfer window open.

Here, talkSPORT.com takes a look at the players who could take Egypt by storm.

Alex Iwobi – Nigeria

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Alex Iwobi will hope to shine in the absence of Victor Moses
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Nigeria travel to Egypt without Victor Moses, who announced his international retirement after last year’s World Cup.

It means Arsenal’s Iwobi will have to fill the void and show his huge potential on the big stage – something Gunners fans continue to wait for.

Yves Bissouma – Mali

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Yves Bissouma impressed at Brighton this season
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While Brighton were uninspiring in the Premier League this season, Seagulls fans will tell you how impressive Bissouma was.

Keeping hold of the Mali midfielder could prove crucial to their chances of survival under Graham Potter next season.

Kalidou Koulibaly – Senegal

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The Napoli defender is considered one of the best in the world
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Napoli want £90million for their star centre-back and a solid performance at AFCON could add to that valuation.

Manchester United are among several top clubs in Europe desperate to sign the Senegalese defender.

Idrissa Gueye – Senegal

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Senegal have a host of big name players
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Another Senegalese star linked with a move away is Everton maestro Gueye.

The 29-year-old nearly joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and said he hopes the French champions will revive their interest this summer.

Riyad Mahrez – Algeria

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Mahrez has found himself down the pecking order at the Etihad
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Riyad Mahrez became something of a forgotten man at Manchester City this season, following his £60million move which made him the most expensive African footballer in history.

He will hope to put things right in Egypt.

Hakim Ziyech – Algeria

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Hakim Ziyech featured for morocco at the 2018 World Cup in Russia
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Ziyech enjoyed a fantastic season with Ajax – helping Erik ten Hag’s side lift the Eredivisie trophy, the KNVB Cup, and starring during their remarkable Champions League run.

And, on a personal level, the 26-year-old claimed the club’s Player of the Year award thanks to his 21 goals and 24 assists in 49 games.

He has been heavily linked with a £25million move to Arsenal.

Moussa Djenepo – Mali

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@SouthamptonFC on Twitter

Moussa Djenepo has already joined Southampton this summer[/caption]

Southampton fans will be keeping a close eye on their new signing Djenepo, who joins the club on a £14million deal from Standard Liege this summer.

The 20-year-old attacker will be a key player for Mali, thanks to his direct running and delightful dribbling.

Nicolas Pepe – Ivory Coast

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Nicolas Pepe is wanted by a host of top clubs across Europe
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The 23-year-old Lille winger took Ligue 1 by storm this season, netting 19 times and providing 11 assists in 32 games to catch the eye of several top clubs.

Liverpool are reportedly leading the chase for his signature, with Premier League rivals Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton also interested.

Lille have slapped a £70million price tag on his head, which could rise with a strong showing in Egypt.

Sadio Mane – Senegal

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It’s easy to see why Senegal are fancied
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The Premier League Golden Boot was shared between three Africans this season – and two of them will feature at AFCON.

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, the Senegal captain, will hope to lead his nation’s golden generation to glory.

Mohamed Salah – Egypt

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Mohamed Salah is a national hero in Egypt
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The ‘Egyptian King’ will carry the weight of a nation on his shoulders this summer.

The seven-time AFCON champions are favourites to win the tournament again in their home country.

Salah will be looking to cap off an incredible summer after winning the Champions League with Liverpool.

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