This year's African Cup of Nations will be the 32nd edition of the biannual competition, and the first to feature 24 nations. Among those participating are all-time AFCON trophy leaders and this year's hosts Egypt, a strong Morocco side, and plenty of underdogs who could spring a surprise when it all kicks off in June.


With the largest number of countries ever participating, it also broadens the scope for more exciting young talent to emerge from the searing north African heat and put themselves in the shop window for onlooking European sides.

​Premier League household names such as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Alex Iwobi will be featuring, but what about those outside of England who will be eager to use the tournament as platform for their club careers?


We take a look at the players who may very well end up at major European sides in the summer, if they perform as well as their expectations are high.


Baghdad Bounedjah - Algeria

FBL-CAN-AFR-ALG-BEN

If your goals to game ratio was the deciding factor, then Bounedjah would be playing for the ​Barcelona's of this world already. The Algerian forward plies hi​s trade for Al Sadd SC in the Qatar Stars League, obliterating defences and goalkeepers alike with some staggering figures this year.


Granted, the quality of opposition is nowhere near the standard of the European leagues, but it's hard not to admire someone who has netted 39 league goals in just 22 outings. At 27 years old, the striker is at the peak of his powers, therefore a big showing on the biggest stage in African football may just be the platform he needs to tempt any wanting club he is worthy of a crack at Europe.


Hakim Ziyech - Morocco

Hakim Ziyech

Linked with just about every club in Europe at the moment, Moroccan Ziyech has been in scintillating form for Ajax this term, contributing to 29 goal in 29 league games.


Little needs to be said about putting himself in the shop window of other European sides, because he's practically on the street already. ​Arsenal​United and ​Real Madrid have all been linked so far, and he is set to increase his stock further when he leads his nation's forward line in a tough group featuring Ivory Coast, South Africa and Namibia.


Mbwana Samatta - Tanzania

FBL-EUR-C3-BESIKTAS-GENK

A player who has really come to life this season is Tanzania's Samatta after a superb individual and club campaign for Genk in the Belgian First Division.


The 2018/19 season was the 26-year-old striker's fourth in Belgium, but unquestionably his most prolific after netting 32 goals across 53 matches in all competitions. His 20 league goals placed him top of the goalscoring charts in the whole division and he was duly named the best African or African origin player in the Belgian Pro League.


Proving the deciding factor as Genk won the league title, he may be able to achieve similar success for his country in the summer, and a switch to one of the bigger leagues in the continent may be on the cards.


Salif Sane - Senegal

Salif Sane

Reading the ​Bundesliga table doesn't make pretty viewing for Sane's Schalke 04. However, it says a lot about a player when he's still considered a top central defender despite his side finishing 16th in the league and shipping 55 goals - although those 55 are the least in the bottom half.


The 28-year-old has spent the last six years in Germany, but enjoyed his best goalscoring season this year in his debut campaign for Die Knappen, netting four times. Standing at 6'5", the Senegalese player is an imposing figure to opposition strike forces, and could well be of interest to one or two Premier League sides this summer.


Moussa Marega - Mali

FBL-EUR-C1-PORTO-ROMA

Those who have tuned in to the ​Champions League this season will be familiar with Malian striker Marega, who, quite frankly, is hard to miss anyway. Possessing a monstrous frame, the Porto striker is already a wanted man by ​Chelsea and Wolves, if ​The Sun are to be believed.


Therefore, a strong AFCON showing could really tip the scale for interested clubs who are thought to be willing to spend in the region of £30m for the French-born forward. Marega had another strong campaign in the Primeira Liga, netting 17 times across all competitions to bring his total for the club to 41 goals in 85 outings.


Andre Onana - Cameroon

FBL-EUR-C1-AJAX-TOTTENHAM

Arguably Onana is already at a major European side in Ajax, a club who won their domestic league and reached the Champions League semi finals. Much of the Dutch club's success this term is attributed to the 23-year-old former Barcelona goalkeeper, who has put 'bigger' European sides on red alert after some superb displays in between the sticks.


United have already ​been credited with making a failed bid for the stopper, and it looks set to be a period of uncertainty for his parent club, who will be desperate not to lose any more of their major stars this summer.​


Knowledge Musona - Zimbabwe

SOCCER JPL D22 KAS EUPEN VS LOKEREN

When you think a name couldn't get any better, Musona is more commonly referred to as 'The Smiling Assassin'. Fantastic nicknames aside, the Zimbabwean winger is attracting some attention from across Europe after beginning to establish himself in the Belgian leagues as something of a speed merchant.


Agile and capable of breezing past defenders, Musona has the tough task of facing off against Egypt, RD Congo and Uganda in his country's AFCON group.


Nicolas Pepe - Ivory Coast

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-SAINT ETIENNE-LILLE

Whether or not Pepe will have sealed a move to a major European side before the competition takes place is yet to be decided, however, it is highly unlikely the Ivorian will still be a Lille player at the start of next season.


The winger is fiercely quick and has absolutely tore up Ligue 1 this season at just 23 years old. He's scored a staggering 22 league goals and chipped in with 11 assists in 37 league outings, plenty of reasons why ​Manchester City and Arsenal are circling over a possible summer move.