Egypt’s football star Mohammad Salah has officially put pen to paper with British football team Chelsea FC on Sunday.
The announcement came following an £11 million ($18 million) agreement reached between the British team and the Swiss champions FC Basel, according to the sports news website Eurosport.
“Egypt is very proud of its prodigy and we [Egyptians] believe that Salah will achieve a lot with the Blues,” Mahmoud Sabri, a sports critic for Al Ahram told Al Arabiya News.
“By signing this contract the future of Egyptian football is now on the legs of Salah,” Sabri said.
Speaking on Friday, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho expressed his respect for the 21-year-old prodigy.
“He is young, he is fast, he is creative, he is enthusiastic. When we analyzed him, he looked like he had a humble personality on the pitch, ready to work for the team and to work and to adapt himself,” Mourinho said during a press conference.
“I like the fact that he can play the same way our attacking players do, which is with adaptability, to play right, left, or behind the striker,” he added.
Although already respected internationally, the mid fielder failed to take his national team to Brazil after a crushing loss of 6-1 by Ghana in the qualifying playoff last November.
Some sports critics argued that due to the low number of qualified Egyptian players, those who do succeed tend to become arrogant and look down at their fellow Egyptian players when they return to their home country during national games.
“We don’t have a lot of qualified players in Egypt, so the ones that manage to be professional and make it to the international scene tend to become haughty and look down at the other Egyptian players who play with local teams,” Hany Hathout, a sports presenter on the state owned radio station, Youth and Sports Radio, told Al Arabiya News.
“On the field, it makes the player who is coming from abroad play with arrogance and forget about team work which is essential in football,” Hathout added.
Egyptian player Ahmed al-Muhammadi, from the English Hull City team, was not on the squad of Egypt’s football team former manager Bob Bradley for the second qualifying match against Ghana “after a careless attitude” in the first leg of the decisive World Cup play off.
Analysts say players typically show a lack luster performance during national team games fearing injury that could affect their performance with their international team, their main source of income.
“They don’t want to involve themselves too much in the game fearing to get hurt which could have an impact on their international career,” Hathout said, clarifying that it is players’ source of revenue unlike playing with the national team which only bring them recognition.
Playing for the Egyptian national team is considered as a duty and does not bring players any money, Hathout added.
However, Egyptian footballers must nevertheless take into consideration that several international clubs prefer acquiring African players who play with their national teams, Sabri warned, using the English teams Liverpool and Manchester United as examples.
Salah, known for his ability to play a variety of attacking positions, has been tracked by a number of international clubs including Chelsea’s Premier League rival, Liverpool.
He started his career in Egypt with el Mokaweloun before moving to Basel in June 2012 in which he made 47 appearances and scored 9 goals.