When Mohamed Salah Ghaly moved to FC Basel of Switzerland, he was expected to be a replacement for the departing Xherdan Shaqiri, who was dubbed as the nation’s next big thing. But who would’ve thought that he would be crowned Switzerland’s best player in his debut season? In fact, he might have not been playing football nowadays had his father took the decision to end his football career in order for him to focus on school.
Who is Mohamed Salah?
Having to follow the footsteps of Egyptian football legends such as Ahmed Hassan, Ahmed Hossam ‘Mido’ and Hossam Hassan into Europe is no easy task. Salah took the challenge on and he came with a bang! One would argue that the former Arab Contractors man can go on to be the nation’s greatest ever football player.
Salah made his debut with the Egyptian club in 2009/2010 at a tender age of 17 having come through the ranks. His first season in Egypt wasn’t spectacular as he watched his club change managers three different times during the season.
He later was part of the 2011 Egyptian U-20 World Cup squad due to participate in the competition, scoring one goal in the knock-out rounds against Argentina.
In 2012 and soon after he had completed his move to FC Basel, Salah was on the plane travelling to London for the Olympics. The youngster managed to score against all of Egypt’s group stage opponents, including runners-up of the competition, Brazil. It was in this game where Salah showed his real talent as he had the game of his life against the Seleção which made all Egyptians proud.
The player was an essential part of Egypt’s squad aiming to qualify to the World Cup as he managed to score six goals in eight games, with a hat-trick coming against Zimbabwe giving Egypt their first ever win in Harare. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to take Egypt to Brazil.
Salah has a total of 17 goals and seven assists in 25 games for Egypt. The fact that he is not even a striker is what makes his statistics much more exciting.
Mohamed was bought to replace Xherdan Shaqiri which led to comparisons between both players. Would Salah be able to replace him? Is he good enough? He certainly proved many people wrong by scooping up two man of the match awards in his first two games in the Swiss league .
Salah had many moments of brilliance in his debut season that aimed the light on him such as scoring against European champions Chelsea, while also putting in a show against Gareth Bale’s Tottenham Hotspur and humiliating the man at a moment, which led to people thinking that this man was the real deal. He also scored two goals in both home and away fixtures against the Chelsea in the 2013 UEFA Champions league group stages
Rumors surrounding the young Pharoah began to circle with Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool amongst the most interested suitors for the exciting winger, with his friend confirming that a move to the Merseyside club is 99% complete.
In his first season at the club, Salah was crowned Swiss league champion with FC Basel, as well as finishing runner-up with his club in the domestic cup. He was also picked the (best player in Switzerland or as they call it ‘Switzerland’s Golden Player’) (http://www.kingfut.com/2013/12/02/salah-named-best-player-switzerland-20122013/), while some Swiss papers said that Salah can manage to be the country’s greatest ever football player if he continues his FC Basel career.
After being named as ‘most promising talent’ in 2012’s CAF awards (beating players such as Southampton’s Vincent Wanyama), Salah was named amongst the runners for the 2013 African Player of the Year award. The winner will be announced on the 9th of January.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
Mohamed Salah is a quick, slick and agile winger. His blistering pace on the ball is what gets defenders on their toes when it’s at his feet. Ask Chelsea’s defenders, they should know. Last season was his break-through season, but one weakness was there for everyone to see. He didn’t score as much as he should’ve (10 goals all season). Even Murat Yakin (FC Basel’s coach) knew that. He once said that if Salah scored more, his price would easily be 12 million Euro’s. But that’s a thing in the past as his finishing ability has become top notch this season, bagging 11 goals half-way through the season.
Once dubbed as the ‘Egyptian Messi’, his best strength must come in his amazing dribbling skills. His neat footwork is what makes him a tricky winger. One which isn’t easily marked out of the game, Salah also possesses a powerful left foot and excellent vision, not to mention his inch perfect through passes, one may argue that Salah has a few more areas to work on to develop into a complete winger.
His versatility is another important factor in making him the player he is as he can play on both wings, as a shadow striker, or even as a lone striker/false nine. A lot of players can do it, but a small group can do it as good as Salah.
Salah’s biggest and most notable weakness is his physique. He’s not the toughest of players so knocking him down wouldn’t be a hard thing for most defenders. His use of his right foot isn’t something to be overly confident about either. Understandable, as it’s his weaker foot but definitely needs to work on it more as defenders are always expecting him to use the left foot.
His heading ability isn’t the best due to his just above average height. Standing at 1.76m (5 ft 8 in), Salah isn’t the tallest of wingers. This can be a disadvantage for the player as defenders will know that they can take him on in the air due to his defensive weakness. As a result, his aerial duels percentage (57% in this season’s UEFA Champions league) isn’t the highest and he barely scores with his head.
As well as revealing in an interview with KingFut.com how ‘special’ his relationship with Salah was, former United States and Egypt manager Bob Bradley reserved some praise for the young Pharoah after his heroics against Zimbabwe, saying: “Salah is the future of Egyptian football. He was the best player against Zimbabwe. His performance was historic, especially since he scored a hat-trick while also contributing to the first goal by Abou-Treika. Salah is a perfect professional player.”
Brad Friedel: “Basel set up to hit us on the counterattack and they did that really effectively, I thought their right-winger [Salah] posed us a lot of problems. In the second half he did a great job of keeping possession for the team.” Spurs and USMNT’s veteran goalkeeper was quoted as saying by UEFA.com.
Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho “They were very difficult to play against.” He quickly added: “He [Salah] is a very good player, very fast too.”
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