AFC Bournemouth winger Maxi Gradel has departed with Ivory Coast for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Gradel and his international team-mates are currently in Abu Dhabi ahead of their tournament starting on the 16th January against Togo.
Ivory Coast will also play Morocco and DR Congo in the group stages and if they reach the final, Gradel will be unavailable until mid-February.
He will however not come up against AFC Bournemouth team-mate Benik Afobe when Ivory Coast play DR Congo.
Despite not being involved in AFC Bournemouth’s squad against Arsenal in midweek, Benik Afobe has turned down the opportunity to represent DR Congo.
Afobe has instead opted to remain on the south coast with the blessing of DR Congo manager Florent Ibenge.
Afobe told afcb.co.uk…
‘For the last couple of months I have been talking to my family and thinking about what is best for my development, I have a lot of respect for everyone at DR Congo: the staff there, the players and fans. It’s a massive tournament for everyone, but thinking about my development and being at this stage in my career where I’m trying to establish myself in my first full Premier League season, I just want to keep improving.
‘I have a great opportunity here now and I think by going away and missing six or seven weeks it could hamper my season personally and for the team.’
‘I spoke to the manager Florent Ibenge over the phone and that’s something I wanted to do myself to show respect. We spoke and he said that he understood.
‘He said he was a player himself and that he understands the situation I am in, he hopes that I can keep improving and getting more minutes with Bournemouth…’
‘I think he (Afobe) has done the right thing for his career at this moment. He has great potential, can score goals in the PL and clearly is relishing the chance to stake his claim. He seems to love playing alongside his great mate Jack Wilshere and I think we are going to see a lot more from him in the next few months.
And as someone else as said he has previously played for England youth teams so perhaps he is hedging his bets ? – Join the conversation here.
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