Sunday,17 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1409, (13-19 September 2018)
Sunday,17 February, 2019
Issue 1409, (13-19 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Salah could be the greatest

Mohamed Salah has become the first Egyptian footballer to be shortlisted for the best player in the world. Marawan ElShafei estimates his chances

The Egyptian football superstar Mohamed Salah made it to FIFA’s list of nominees for the best Men’s Player Award for 2017/2018 – the first time an Egyptian has reached such heights – after his astonishing debut season with Liverpool.

The Egyptian king has been named on the three-man shortlist for the award alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.  

For the first time since 2008, the Argentinian phenomenon Lionel Messi misses out on the nomination.

Mo Salah passed the French World Cup winners Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe. He also came before Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in the nominations. 

Salah has also been nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal in 2017/2018 for his derby stunner against Everton in Anfield Road Stadium. He has been shortlisted for that award alongside Gareth Bale, Ronaldo, Messi, Denis Cheryshev and Benjamin Pavard.

Salah, the 26-year-old winger, was also nominated for the UEFA Best Player award alongside Modric and Ronaldo but that went to Modric, the World Cup runner-up and three times in a row UEFA Champions League winner. 

The Croatian earned 313 points. Ronaldo, the five-time Champions League and five-time Ballon d’Or winner, came second with 223 points. Salah, the English Premier League player of the year, came third with 134 points. 

Still, it was a great achievement for Salah to be named among the best three players in Europe, and now, the world. Modric, though, is favoured after his exploits which included being named the World Cup’s best player.

“To do something no one has done in my country before is really something great which I have to be proud of,” Salah said. “I am so proud that 100 million Egyptian citizens take me as a role model. Sometimes it is a pressure on me but it always makes me work harder and try to get better and better.”

Liverpool landed Salah from the Italian club AS Roma in summer 2017/2018 for a total fee of 35 million euros. He had an unbelievable debut with the Reds, finishing the season with Liverpool in fourth place in the Premier League. He also helped his team reach the UEFA Champions League final after 10 years.

Salah finished last season as the top scorer of the English Premier League ahead of veteran Premier League strikers Sergio Aguero, Kane and Romelu Lukaku. Salah scored 32 goals in 36 matches, the first player in Premier League history to score 32 goals in a 38-game campaign, surpassing the previous record set by Newcastle and England legend Alan Shearer. He also made 11 assists.

In the UEFA Champions League, Salah scored 10 goals and made five assists in 13 matches. In total, Salah participated in 44 goals and 16 assists in 52 matches for Liverpool. 

No wonder Liverpool fans think he is the most important human in the Merseyside. After playing only one season with the Reds, Salah was valued at 135 million euros.

Liverpool had no intention of selling their superstar, so they secured Salah with a long-term contract which made him the highest paid player on the team.

The money was worth it. Salah managed to win more than 20 individual awards in only one season: Player of the English Premier League season 2017/2018, Premier League Golden Boot, three-time Premier League Player of the Month, Liverpool player of the season, two-time UEFA Champions League Player of the Week, and two-time UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week.

Salah also bagged the 2017 African Player of the Year award, BBC African Footballer of the Year and Arab Footballer of the Year.

Salah’s achievements were not only made with his English club but also with his national team. He scored five goals in the qualifications for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, most famously the last-minute strike against Congo which sealed the deal, thus helping secure a spot for Egypt in the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

A shoulder injury during Liverpool’s Champions League final against Real Madrid forced him to miss Egypt’s World Cup opener against Uruguay. Although he was out of sorts, he scored twice against Russia and Saudi Arabia, making himself the top scorer of the Egyptian National Team in the World Cup.

This season Liverpool have all the potential needed to win the English Premier League after a drought of more than 20 years. Liverpool won their first four matches and are on top of the table with 12 points, beating West Ham 4-0, Crystal Palace 2-0, Brighton Albion 1-0 and Leicester City 2-1.

Salah’s goal against Brighton in the third week of the English Premier League was also named Goal of the Week.

Two weeks from now Salah and his teammates will start their European journey aiming this year to collect the Champions League title after they failed to win it in Kiev, losing to Spanish giants Real Madrid 3-1.

Liverpool will face PSG, Napoli and Crvena Zvezda in the group stage.

This season Salah will set for himself new goals. Besides competing for the Golden Boot and Player of the Year, winning a major trophy with Liverpool will be his main objective. Salah’s main concern now is to prove to all football fans he is not a one-season wonder.

The Best FIFA Football Awards for 2018 are to be held on 24 September in London.

The votes are decided by media representatives, national team coaches and captains.

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