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When in Rome: Mohamed Salah’s second season in search of Scudetto
For a nation too often left disappointed over the countless unsuccessful spells of Egyptians abroad, Mohamed Salah’s European journey has thus far helped to reduce the pessimism in Egypt since his departure from Arab Contractors. Heading into his fifth season in Europe, the 24-year-old has already collected three league winner’s medals in two countries – Switzerland and England, with FC Basel and Chelsea respectively. Now heading into his third season in Italy, Salah will be looking to add some Roman silverware to his collection.
Upon joining Fiorentina on loan from Chelsea two seasons ago, the Egypt international star played in 26 games, scoring nine goals and assisting four in just half a season.
Shining in Rome
After controversially joining Roma, the young winger continued to impress, being named Roma’s Player of the Year despite missing out on several weeks with an ankle injury, and struggling to recapture his form on his return. In 42 games however, Salah scored 15 goals to end the season as the fifth highest scoring player in the Italian top flight. He also added six assists to help the Giallorossi to a third place finish in Serie A, behind Juventus and Napoli.
Mohamed Salah: Only Higuaín (32) & Bacca (15) scored more goals from open play in Serie A last season than @22mosalah (13)
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 3, 2016
Heading into his second season with Roma, the talented Pharaoh will once again be hoping to build upon the previous year. Mohamed Salah remains a key player for the Romans, as he is expected to be a staple in their potent 4-3-3 formation, along with Edin Dzeko and fellow (half) Egyptian Stephan El Shaarawy. Following the departure of Miralem Pjanic to Juventus, Salah will be expected to carry even more of the load for the Giallorossi this upcoming season, with manager Luciano Spalletti hinting at the possibility of the Egyptian taking free-kick duties.
Salah is a sure fire starter in his patented right wing position; he will be hoping to maintain good form – while staying injury free – all season long to finally beat Juventus to a title. After securing back-to-back doubles, the Old Lady have continued to strengthen their squad, adding the likes of Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, and Gonzalo Higuain.
Ins and Outs
Roma will have to do without former midfield orchestrator Pjanic, but were given a boost towards the end of last season with the return of Netherlands international Kevin Strootman from injury, while Belgian star Radja Nainggolan affirmed his desire to stay in Rome. The Gillarossi have also made a number of summer signings themselves, majority of which to retain last season’s squad. 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder Gerson joined the club, along with compatriot Juan Jesus on loan from Inter and Argentina defender Federico Fazio on loan from Spurs. They also made the loans of Salah, Edin Dzeko, Diego Perotti and Antonio Rudiger permanent – although the latter will miss several months after suffering an ACL injury on international duty with Germany. Nigerian striker Umar Sadiq has also joined the club permanently, after playing on loan last year, while Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has rejoined Roma on another season-long deal from Arsenal. Pjanic’s shoes are hard to fill, but the Romans are hoping to combat his absence with contributions from various players.
While Roma’s ultimate goal is to end Juventus’ current dominance in Italy with a Serie A triumph, they must first secure continental football. Champions League football has become the norm in Stadio Olimpico, and the fans will be expecting no different this season. A deep run in the Coppa Italia is to be expected of Luciano Spalletti’s side as well.
All in all, Egypt’s prized gem Mohamed Salah has returned to Rome on a permanent deal, in the hopes of supplanting Juventus at the pinnacle of Italian football; leading Roma to either a Scudetto, Coppa Italia, or perhaps, both – and adding another title to the Pharaohs Abroad trophy cabinet.