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AFCON move is great news for Leicester City

The Foxes have more African players than most

Leicester City v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

While our eyes were all on Asia this week, as Leicester City kicked off their preseason in Hong Kong, news broke from Africa that could have an even bigger impact on the Foxes: the Africa Cup of Nations is moving from January to July.

Traditionally, the tournament has been held in the winter, taking a month or more out of the season. In recent years this has caused some issues, as more and more African players have moved to play for European clubs.

This will not be news to most who follow Leicester City; no Premier League team lost more players than the Foxes to the tournament in 2017. The impact was absolutely felt, as we went on two lose all four league games in that time by an aggregate score of 13-0.

In fact, the side that played Liverpool on Saturday had five African internationals in Mahrez and Slimani (Algeria), Musa and Ndidi (Nigeria) and Daniel Amartey (Ghana). That’s discounting Yohan Benalouane, who qualifies for Tunisia but doesn't play, and Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho, who seems certain to sign with the club in the coming days.

As well as the disruption of losing players, some have complained of the added work and travel on their African players. Two years ago, Nigel Pearson dropped Riyad Mahrez, after a drop in form on his return from Algeria duty.

Losing this break could be big for a team like Leicester, especially with Ndidi, Amartey and (probably) Iheanacho. At 20, 22, and 20 years old, playing for two of the better African teams, they should all have plenty of AFCONs left to play.

Still, the next tournament isn't scheduled until 2019, so this date change shouldn't have too much of an effect on the following season. On the pitch, at least.

Off the pitch, the impact could still be big for the Foxes. Speaking to BBC Sport, agents Papa Agyemang and Saif Rubie claimed that the move would make African players more attractive to European clubs. They even went as far as saying that some clubs used it as an excuse not to sign some players.

Could this change the outcome of the Riyad Mahrez transfer story? All we really know about it, for now, is that Roma and probably Arsenal (maybe Tottenham) are interested, but none of them is prepared to pay the price we’re asking. If this news boosts the value of all African players, could it convince one of these teams to up their offer?

It doesn't end with Mahrez, either. Rumours have also persisted that Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani could be on the way out. The only stumbling block in either deal appears to be the insistence, on Leicester’s part, to reclaim as much of their big fees as possible.

However you look at it, the Foxes have more African players than most teams, and we rely on them heavily.

Anything that helps teams get more from their African players great for us. Anything that raises the value of African players is great for us.

I don’t know about you, but I’m in favour of things that are great for us.