The rise and rise of Mohamed Salah
Ahmed Haytham takes another look at the rise and rise of Mohamed Salah. An Egyptian footballer on the cusps of world class status.
Mohamed “Momo” Salah has stated that football was his biggest and only passion since he was a young kid. He was only 14 years old when he joined the Arab Contractors youth team. The side is known to have one of the best youth academies in Egypt. It took Salah four years to make his first-team debut, in the 2009/2010 season. His first ever goal was against, the biggest club in Africa, Al Ahly. This led to him being on the spotlight and was labeled immediately as an upcoming hot prospect. In addition, he won the CAF Most Promising Player of the Year Award.
The young lad recorded 7 goals and 3 assists in the first half of the 2011/2012 season. Unfortunately, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) was forced to cancel the remainder of the season due to the Port Said Stadium tragedy. Even so, Salah was already on the radar of scouts from, Swiss side, FC Basel. The 20 year old was saved from the interruption of Egyptian football by completing a €2,500,000 move to Switzerland.
Salah in Europe
Momo scored 20 goals and made 17 assists, over 79 games, in his spell at FC Basel. One of his best moments in a Basel shirt was scoring the only goal of the game against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League, at home. Salah left Switzerland having won the Swiss Super League, back to back, as well as clinching the Swiss Golden Player award in 2013.
The Pharaoh’s remarkable performance persuaded Jose Mourinho to sign him, as the most expensive Egyptian signing in history. But Mourinho did not give him enough playing time in the Premier League. This lack of appearances saw the Egyptian’s depart Chelsea in the European winter transfer window, on loan, to Serie A side Fiorentina. Despite making only 3 appearances in the Premier League, managing a goal against Arsenal, Jose Mourinho granted Salah a replica Premier League winners medal in the 2014/2015 season.
READ: THE EVOLUTION OF SALAH
Salah became a fan favorite, at Fiorentina, after scoring two crucial goals against Juventus in the Coppa Itallia. As a result, the Italian side tried to activate an option to make the loan move permanent, but Salah prefered a move to AS Roma.
Salah moves to Roma
In 2015/2016, Salah had a remarkable season with Roma; scoring on 15 different occasions and assisting 9 times in 42 appearances. After Momo’s amazing season with La Maggica, Roma activated their option to buy Salah permanently, on a contract running up to 2019.
At the end of the following season, Salah was awarded Roma’s Best Player of the Season Award. This was for scoring 19 goals and assisting 15 times, in all competition. He recorded first club career hat trick, against Bologna, in this season.
Salah now among Egypt’s greats
Salah is already considered one of the best Egyptians to ever play the game. He has made his mark at both the U-20 and U-23 levels. Momo has had a good return with the senior squad as well; managing to score 29 goals in just 52 games.
His style of play
The 25 year old is known to be one of the best direct players in Europe. The Pharaoh performs best when playing on the right flank, allowing him to cut inside to his favored left foot for a shot on goal or an early cross to the striker. Momo is also comfortable when hugging the touchline to make the field as wide as possible. This allows him to create space for himself and for his teammates.
Salah has plenty of strengths but his pace and dribbling are the ones that stand out. Combining his pace and ball control on the ball, Salah makes it a hard task for defenders to intercept the ball or even catch him on the run. The Egyptian is also known for his accurate short passes and as a team player. He had an average of 80% successful passes in the 2016/2017 season.
His remarkable agility and ball control allows him to play in tight spaces and get out of difficult situations. Salah has an average of 2.7 key passes per 90 minutes in Serie A. Which proves how much of an impact the Egyptian could do in the final third of the pitch
Another thing that definitely cannot be ignored, is his goal scoring instinct. The Egyptian always has an eye for goal and will take a shot if he has a good sight on the post. He averages 2.5 shots per game and scored an impressive 15 goals in 31 matches in Serie A, in the just ended 2016/2017 season.
Salah to Liverpool?
Liverpool is reportedly interested in signing the 25-year old. Momo would fit perfectly in Jürgen Klopp’s “Heavy Metal” approach to the game. The German coach is mostly seen playing dynamic fast-paced football that requires a lot of stamina and composure. Salah’s ability to play on either flanks or even a central role can grant him a chance in the starting XI in an attacking three of Mane, Firminio and Salah.
How would Liverpool look with Salah? Coutinho would have more of a deep role while pulling the strings to feed Mane and Salah through balls behind the defenders. And Firminio will continue playing in the false 9 position from which he has scored 11 goals. The Egyptian international has up to 71 total chances created in Serie A only, which proves how well the lad can find his teammates in the final third of the pitch.
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