Top 10: Forgotten Premier League stars set to play at the Afcon

Baba Rahman
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There will be one or two familiar faces set to contest the continental showpiece in Egypt, here are a few you may remember

  1. Stephane Sessegnon
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    #10 Stephane Sessegnon

    Benin’s most-capped player will enjoy a late-career swansong in Egypt after the Squirrels qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2010.

    He’s still playing at a high level, having left Ligue 1’s Montpellier for Super Lig side Genclerbirligi in January 2018, and even though his pace has dimmed, he’s still a potential match-winner for Michel Dussuyer’s side.

    Sessengon played for six seasons in the Premier League, for Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.

  2. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting
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    #9 Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting

    Choupo-Moting has been the subject of ridicule over the last 12 months, both for his bizarre move from relegated Stoke City to Paris Saint-Germain, and then for his ridiculous title-denying goalline miss against Strasbourg in April.

    However, he’s got a point to prove with Cameroon after missing their Afcon success in 2017, and is now a key figure in Clarence Seedorf’s squad.

  3. Chancel Mbemba

    #8 Chancel Mbemba

    A veteran of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s third-placed finish at the 2015 Nations Cup, Mbemba secured a move to Newcastle United on the back of that campaign.

    He was relegated in his first season in the Premier League, after making 33 appearances, and was a peripheral figure in the Championship before a second shot at the big time in 2017-18.

    Mbemba moved onto FC Porto in July 2018.

  4. Youssouf Mulumbu
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    #7 Youssouf Mulumbu

    Another Congolese midfielder who’ll be familiar to regular Premier League viewers is former West Bromwich Albion hardman Mulumbu.

    The tenacious anchorman forged an excellent partnership with Claudio Yacob during his time at The Hawthorns, where he played for seven seasons after moving from Paris Saint-Germain.

    Mulumbu suffered relegation with Norwich City in 2016, and now plays for Kilmarnock in the Scottish top flight.

  5. Gael Bigirimana
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    #6 Gael Bigirimana

    Like Mulumbu, Bigirimana has transitioned from English football to Scotland, having joined Motherwell from Coventry City in 2017.

    He’ll contest the Afcon—Burundi’s first—as a free agent after leaving Hibernian, having previously represented Glasgow Rangers and Newcastle United.

    He made 13 appearances in the Prem in 2012-13, but failed to establish himself at St. James’ Park.

  6. Henri Saivet
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    #5 Henri Saivet

    Saivet, like Bigirimana, is another Newcastle flop, who might not be remembered too fondly by Magpies fans.

    He had his moments after signing from Girondins de Bordeaux in 2016, but the box-to-box midfielder—who was a forward earlier in his career—struggled with injuries and made just five Premier League appearances for the Magpies.

    The 28-year-old remains on the club’s books, following loan spells with Saint-Etienne, Sivasspor and Bursaspor, but don’t expect him to turn things around in the North East.

  7. Karim El Ahmadi
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    #4 Karim El Ahmadi

    A class act in the Eredivisie with FC Twente and Feyenoord, El Ahmadi was a Dutch champion in 2017, having returned to the latter following a two-season spell in the Premier League.

    He was Paul Lambert’s first signing at Aston Villa—a £2 million arrival—but struggled to build on his promising start at Villa Park as the Scot’s reign lurched between disappointment and mediocrity.

    Now 34, El Ahmadi plays for Al-Ittihad, and will be a lynchpin in Morocco’s midfield this summer.

  8. Wilfried Bony
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    #3 Wilfried Bony

    Once upon a time, Bony was Africa’s most expensive player, with Manchester City parting with a reported £28 million to bring the Swansea City forward to Eastlands.

    Bony had been a scoring sensation in Wales after joining the Swans from Vitesse Arnhem, but amidst admittedly stern competition, he struggled to transfer that scoring form to City.

    Goals came in fits and starts, but the arrival of Pep Guardiola signalled the end of his time at the club, and he was loaned to Stoke City following six goals in 36 top-flight outings for the Citizens.

    He returned to Swansea in 2017-18 in a brief—and failed—attempt to keep them afloat in the Premier League.

  9. Abdul Rahman Baba
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    #2 Abdul Rahman Baba

    Like Bony, great things were once expected of Baba when he began to make his name in German football with Greuther Furth and FC Augsburg, before signing for Chelsea in 2015.

    While Baba was clearly seen as a project at Stamford Bridge—and not yet the finished product—he delivered a series of encouraging displays, particularly going forward, although there were momentary lapses defensively.

    He failed to impress Antonio Conte following the Italian’s arrival in 2016, and was loaned out to Schalke 04.

    Injury hit hard at the 2017 Nations Cup, and he hasn’t played for the Stamford Bridge giants since. He remains on the club’s books, but don’t expect a comeback, even though he’s returned to fitness on loan at Stade de Reims.

  10. Max Gradel
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    #1 Max Gradel

    Gradel has featured for three different English clubs during his career, starting his life as a professional with Leicester City in League One, before signing for Leeds United in 2009 following the Foxes’ promotion to the Championship.

    Gradel became a cult hero at Elland Road as they also returned to the second tier, but was allowed to leave for Saint-Etienne in 2011.

    Despite being an ideal fit for the French league—he scored 17 in 31 in 2014-15, the same season as he won the Nations Cup—Gradel was sold to Premier League Bournemouth in 2015.

    The move didn’t work out, with injuries doubtless affecting his progress, and Gradel returned to France with Toulouse in August 2017.