‘Lots of European clubs said no’ – Salah’s difficult route to European football shared by agency founder

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Sascha Empacher revealed that demand for Mo Salah in Europe was remarkably low prior to his switch to Swiss Super League outfit FC Basel in the summer of 2012.

The founder of the SPOCS football agency has been involved in more recent deals to support the careers of current Premier League talents, including Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny and Aston Villa’s Trezeguet.

“He was at an Egyptian Premier League club (Arab Contractors) but Salah wasn’t playing there. He was on the bench because he was young,” the agent told Goal.

“But we knew right away that he was an amazing talent.

“We got to know his family, stayed with them in Egypt and developed a friendship. We marketed him in Europe but it was not easy. It cost a lot in flights to go to and from the country.

“We had to negotiate a lot both with his club and the European clubs, which have different cultures. Lots of European clubs said no because he only played in Egypt.

“We have done similar deals for Mohamed Elneny and Trezeguet, and more recently Mustapha Mohamud, who went from Zamalek to Galatasaray.

“So we were able to help him and, eventually, Salah went on trial to FC Basel, he got the contract, played in the Champions League and the rest is history.”

The Egyptian has since come on leaps and bounds in his career, with a failed move to Chelsea spurring the attacker on to reach new heights – particularly following his decision to link up with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in 2017.

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It’s somewhat bizarre to think of a time where there was a general air of reluctance when it came to the idea of signing our No.11.

Of course, one has to wonder how many talents from the African continent face such challenges without benefitting from the same eventuality as our Egyptian King, with Empacher rightly criticising the rules at play preventing European outfits from bringing such players into their Academies at a younger age.

Given the quality on offer from Salah, we can only hope that FIFA is encouraged to change its rules with the goal of empowering up and coming African starlets.

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