Words by Salim Masoud Said
Arguably the best African player for the first quarter of 2015. The former Arab Contractors winger rebuilt his career on loan at Fiorentina with devastating effect after an unforgettable spell at Chelsea where he saw little first team action. Used as a makeweight in the deal to bring Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea, Salah showed his footballing ability went beyond that of a makeweight player.
There were initial reservations about the compatibility of the player with Fiorentina’s system. He was not a like-for-like replacement for Cuadrado. While the Colombian was a key player as a wing-back in Fiorentina’s 3-5-2 system, Salah is a pure attacker who is most comfortable as a winger or at least in other attacking positions that don’t require too much defensive discipline.
Those reservations soon disappeared within a handful of games. Above all, what Salah gave Fiorentina, who already had Khouma Babacar, Mario Gomez and Alberto Gilardino, Giuseppe Rossi and Alessandro Diamanti on their payroll, was increased dynamism in the attacking options through his ability to attack space with pace. Typically a passing side which preferred to impose their game on the opposition, what Salah added to the side was the surprise factor and venomous virtue of counter attacks.
By early March the Egyptian had registered 6 goals in 7 games, showing the deadly finishes and direct runs that were just not part of Cuadrado’s game. The revival of his football career didn’t see Chelsea make a U-turn on his future in the summer, but it did end in a move to AS Roma. After a strong start at the Giallorossi there has been a dip in form in the last few months of the year, partly due to injury, but the Mohamed Salah’s career is definitely back on track.
Highlight of the Year: Double to end Juventus’ long-term unbeaten record at home
The brace, which came in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final, inflicted the first home defeat to Juventus in 48 games. The 23-year-old opened the scoring with a sensational counter-attacking goal after 10 minutes on the clock