Egypt mega-club Al-Ahly to sign 'Gaza's Messi', Mahmoud al-Salami

Egypt mega-club Al-Ahly to sign 'Gaza's Messi', Mahmoud al-Salami
Al-Ahly Cairo beat arch-rivals Zamalek to sign the Palestinian starlet Mahmoud al-Salami.
2 min read
03 Dec, 2018
Mahmoud al-Salami is one of Gaza's most exciting young players []
Gaza's about to get a new strip.

In the past 24 hours multiple reports in Egyptian and Palestinian press have revealed a remarkable story from Gaza: Egyptian mega-club Al-Ahly Cairo is set to sign the Palestinian starlet Mahmoud al-Salami, a young footballing talent from Ittihad Shujaiya, in what is reportedly a five-season deal.

The 21-year-old al-Salami has been nicknamed "Gaza's Messi" and has attracted a lot of attention from clubs in Egyptian football, holding talks both with Al-Ahly and Zamalek.

In an interview with the Al Watan website after signing for the Red Devils, the winger revealed the details of the sudden transfer which will take him from a devastated neighbourhood to the biggest club in Africa.

The negotiations were exclusive and were kept secret for the past week, but turned to reality when al-Salami headed to Cairo a couple of days ago. At the same time, Zamalek, Al-Ahly's biggest rivals, tried to pursue him to join them.

Al-Salami was reportedly introduced to Al-Ahly's former star Alaa Mihoub and Mahmoud "Bibo" Al-Khatib, Al-Ahly's president, who brought him the club's shirt as an incentive.

Al-Salami got his nickname, "Gaza's Messi" thanks to his style of play, reminiscent of Barcelona's Argentinean legend. Al-Salami, who likes to lead with his left foot on the right wing, is also a big fan of Mohamed Aboutrika, the Egyptian superstar striker convicted in absentia of financing terrorism through his supposed links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

"All I would like to say to the fans is that I pray to God to be at my best for them, to be able to make them happy, and that I dream of winning many tournaments with the team," said al-Salami.

Al-Salami won't count as a foreign player at Al-Ahly, as from last season Syrian and Palestinian players are eligible to play in Egyptian teams as locals.

Everything seems to be ready for al-Salami's official presentation at Egypt's and the Arab world's most prominent football club.

Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here.