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Africa Cup of Nations: Five potential breakout stars

The African Cup of Nations hosts an array of talent that ply their trade across Europe and beyond.

There will be a host of big names competing at AFCON as Liverpool's Mohamed Salah will attempt to win the title for Egypt, former Reds forward Sadio Mane is in the Senegal squad and Napoli hotshot Victor Osimhen has linked up with Nigeria.

However, AFCON isn't just about the established stars and there will be a host of younger players looking to announce themselves on the international stage over the course of the month-long tournament.

Below, we identify five players who could make big impacts at the 2024 African Cup of Nations.

Lamine Camara (Senegal)

Senegal head to AFCON as the holders and one man who could play a vital role in helping them defend the trophy is all-action midfielder Lamine Camara.

Despite having only just turned 20, Camara had already accumulated 14 caps and three goals for the Lions of Teranga heading into the tournament.

The Metz man is a box-to-box midfielder who makes an impact at both ends of the pitch and has been compared to France's N'Golo Kante, while he is also a set-piece specialist.

Camera only joined Les Grenats in the summer but has quickly established himself as a key man for the Ligue 1 outfit and he's replicating his club form on the international stage, becoming the youngest player in AFCON history to score a brace during Senegal's 3-0 win against Gambia.

Karim Konate (Ivory Coast)

The Ivory Coast has produced some huge talents over the years, including Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, and youngster Karim Konate could be the next star for the AFCON 2024 host nation.

The 19-year-old has three goals in nine appearances for Les Elephants and is currently playing for RB Salzburg. 

The Austrian club have a reputation for helping talented youngsters reach the next level as Erling Haaland, Mane, Dominik Szoboszlai and many others have all enjoyed spells at the club - and Konate could be set for a move to one of Europe's big leagues in the not-too-distant future.

Konate has eight goals in 17 league games for Salzburg this season and has 10 in 24 across all competitions. 

He is 50/1 to be the tournament's top scorer and Ivory Coast are 11/2 to win the tournament outright.

Amine Gouiri (Algeria)

Amine Gouiri began his international career with France and featured for the country of his birth up to under-21 level before switching allegiances to Algeria in September.

The 23-year-old plays for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes and enjoyed a particularly strong season last term with 15 goals in 33 league games. 

Gouiri hasn't been quite as effective this season but he has a chance to make his mark on the international stage over the next few weeks.

Algeria look serious contenders to go all the way and Gouiri is potentially poised to be one of their star men, with the Desert Warriors priced at 10/1 to win AFCON outright.

Raphael Onyedika (Nigeria)

Nigeria midfielder Raphael Onyedika mostly features in a holding role for club side Club Brugge but is capable of playing further up the pitch and he may have more of a chance to showcase his attacking abilities at AFCON.

Onyedika has also featured as a centre-half in his career and is a solid all-round performer who should be able to establish himself as a key man for Nigeria over the course of the tournament.

The 22-year-old is in the middle of his second season with Brugge but it wouldn't come as a surprise to see his name linked with a summer switch to England during the next few weeks, as he has the kind of attributes that would suit the fast-paced and physical nature of the Premier League. 

Victor Boniface (Nigeria)

Nigeria striker Victor Boniface has seen a breakout season interrupted by AFCON as he is starring for leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga - but he has yet to make a mark for his country and AFCON provides a chance.

The 23-year-old started his career in Norway with Bodo/Glimt before joining Union SG in 2022. Boniface hit 17 goals in 51 games for the Belgian outfit - including six in the Europa League that saw him finish as the joint top scorer - and that proved enough to convince Bayer to make a move last summer.

Boniface has made a huge impact in Germany with 10 goals in 16 Bundesliga games to fill the void left by Patrik Schick, who missed the start of the season through injury.

He only made his Super Eagles debut in September and he is yet to score for his country in five appearances.

However, his displays in the Bundesliga suggest he could be an AFCON star and he is 66/1 to be the tournament's top scorer - although he will be battling it out with Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho for a starting spot in the Nigeria team.

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