FEATURE: Player Profile on Ali Gabr l The Egyptian Defensive Powerhouse
West Brom completed the transfer of the 29-year old defender Ali Gabr from El-Zamalek last Monday. He joined Alan Pardew’s side on a loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the season. Many West Brom fans may not know much about Gabr, who is labeled by many as one of the best African defenders around.
Here’s a quick overview on the Egyptian defender and some brief info on how he could be a great addition for West Brom beside his comrade Ahmed Hegazi.
Both Gabr and Hegazi started out at El Ismaily’s youth academy, which is considered as one of best football academies in Egypt. He was called up to the first team at 2008 and played a total of 15 matches while scoring a goal for the Yellow Dragons.
And in 2012 he moved to Al-Itihad, played a total of 29 games and caught the attention of the local giants El-Zamalek. He eventually moved in the 2014/2015 season and was able to win the domestic double in his first season, the Egyptian cup in the 2015/2016 season and a runner-up position in the African Champions League and a Super Cup in the 2016/ 2017 season.
Gabr was also importantly a part of a successful partnership with Hegazi in Egypt’s campaign in the AFCON, which is mainly how Alan Pardew and his staff took notice of Gabr. The duo showed some exciting chemistry between them that the West Brom fans can only dream of seeing, as they only conceded a total of 3 goals in 6 games (2 of them were conceded in the tournament’s final) in which Egypt lost against Cameroon by the score of two goals to one.
Gabr has all the qualities that West Brom need in a defender currently, His composure on the ball and tactical awareness of his position ranked him as one of the top center-backs across all of Africa. He could also help the team going forward with his runs that come from the back line and into midfield to help out his team in maintaining possession and keeping their shape while stretching out defenses. In addition, he is also a versatile defender as he could play in both a back 4 and a back 3, known for his aerial abilities that could pose as a threat on the opposition from set-pieces and as a part of a defensive block for all incoming crosses.
And for all you Baggies, after you’ve gotten yourself to know a bit more about the Egyptian rock, you won’t even believe how this deal was an absolute bargain, bringing him in for only around half a million pounds.
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