The in-form Liverpool forward bagged the award for best player on the continent last week as his ascent continues.
The in-form Liverpool forward bagged the award for best player on the continent last week as his ascent continues
Mohamed Salah continued Egypt’s fine tradition in African football last week when he claimed his maiden Caf African Player of the Year award in Accra on Thursday night, beating Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the continent’s biggest sporting story of the week.
He is the first Egyptian to receive the accolade under the current format and the second after Mahmoud El Khatib in 1983, and having earlier clinched the BBC African Player of the Year award, appears on course to become the outstanding African talent of his generation.
2017 has been a stellar for the Basyoun-born forward. He scored 19 goals and contributed 15 assists with AS Roma before moving to Liverpool, where he has currently registered 17 Premier League goals, and 23 strikes in 29 competitive outings.
It was just barely four years ago that Salah made the big move to Chelsea from FC Basel, but his time was at Stamford Bridge was a disaster as he failed to replicate the same form that saw him trouble defences while in Switzerland. He was able to find redemption on loan at Fiorentina so much that the Tuscany outfit battled to get his signature permanently before losing out to Roma.
Now in the red half of Merseyside, Salah’s brilliance is such, that it’s not too far-fetched to consider him firmly on course to become Egypt’s greatest ever player before too long.
Although some might argue for that Salah cannot be considered a great just yet as he has no Nations Cup title to his name, it’s always worth noting that, as yet, he hasn’t won too much at club level either.
Players such as Mohamed Aboutrika, Essam El-Hadary, Ahmed Hassan, El Khatib, Hossam Hassan among others brought pride and honour for the Pharaohs on a consistent basis over several campaigns, and can’t easily be surpassed by Salah.
Mohamed Salah | 2017-18 Premier League stats
However, what the Liverpool man is doing, which they didn’t, is truly demonstrate his class beyond North Africa and the Middle East.
In Salah’s case, he is putting his name and the country on the global scale by playing for illustrious European outfits and testing himself week in, week out against the best in the business.
Such has been Salah’s impact at Liverpool this term that Real Madrid have repeated been linked with signing him. Current Pharaohs coach Hector Cuper, former Egypt international Mido and current Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane have all admitted that he would fit in perfectly at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Should such a move materialise, it would be a further step that could see Salah rank among Africa’s greatest.
Real could also be the perfect environment for him to have a shot at winning the Ballon d’Or, a feat that only recently elected president of Liberia, George Weah, achieved with Milan in 1995 as far as African players are concerned.
As Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo steadily begin to fade from grace, Salah has as good a chance as anyone of being one of football’s new figureheads.
At just 25 years of age, Salah still has time on his side as he looks to climb the ladder of greatness.
He played a key role in making Egypt reach the 2017 Afcon finals were they narrowly lost out to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, and he was also crucial during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, scoring five goals as Cuper’s men finished ahead of Uganda, Ghana and Congo.
The Pharaohs will be making only their second appearance at the global showpiece come June and all eyes will be on the mercurial Salah for a successful outing in Russia.
It’s yet another high-profile environment in which the North African can thrive, and prove that he belongs among the world’s top stars.
2017 belongs to Salah and at this rate, he might take ownership of 2018 as well!