Football

Basel duo linked with Premier League moves

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Salah was impressive against Chelsea. (©GettyImages)
Salah was impressive against Chelsea. (©GettyImages).

As far as transfer rumours go, this one has reactionary written all over it given FC Basel’s recent victory over Chelsea in the Champions League.

The immediate future looks bright for the Swiss side, who, should they make it through the group stages, might provide Fabian Schär and Mohamed Salah with more time in the spotlight, watched more closely by the big boys of Europe.

For now, however, let’s take a look at the performances of the Basel duo up to date.

According to The Mirror, Arsenal might decide to move for FC Basel’s centreback, Fabian Schär.

Although Laurent Koscielny has had a reasonably turbulent start to a season that so far has seen him give away penalties in matches against both Aston Villa and Sunderland, the former of which he received a red card in, it’s unlikely that Arsene Wenger is lining up his replacement in Schär.

Rather, the 21-year-old Swiss international, who has only half a season in the top tier of Swiss football under his belt, is a defender who would probably fall into the category of ‘one for the future.’

Partially owing to the fact he’s currently the one taking the penalty kicks at Basel rather than the one conceding them, Fabian Schär has provided two league goals so far for the 2013/14 season.

Based on his recent international exploits during Switzerland’s World Cup qualifiers, the centre half appears to be something of an aerial threat. Against Norway, Schär headed in both Switzerland’s goals during their two nil victory, managing to somehow nutmeg the Norweigian goalkeeper with the second.

Subsequently, in the Swiss side’s goal laden four all draw with Iceland, Schär added a third and, always one to keep his countrymen guessing, this time scored using his foot.

Three goals in two games isn’t bad going for a centreback, but it seems more sensible to take a look at Schär’s defensive contributions. In 21 league appearances for FC Basel last season, Schär featured in a defence that managed to keep eleven clean sheets: a number that goes some way to accounting for Basel’s title winning season.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah, also 21-years-old, is linked according to the Metro to Tottenham Hotspur, a club that, perhaps unsurprisingly given this summer’s activity, seems to have become the go-to club for tabloids’ speculative transfer scoops.

Salah comes across as an industrious, tenacious midfielder.

He puts himself about the pitch, does the odd bit of defending and applies quick footwork and a knack for improvisation in making himself a nuisance for opposing defenders. Additionally, he's not bad when it comes to finishing, which always helps.

Last season, he claimed five goals during 29 appearances in Switzerland’s Super League and, current season included, has six goals in the three most recent European competitions in which Basel have been involved.

Yet, more impressive is Salah’s record of ten in 24 with Egypt’s senior international side. With six goals in six matches thus far, Salah is sitting top of the lead goal scorer table for round two of the CAF World Cup qualifiers, ahead of more familiar names like Yaya Toure, Asamoah Gyan and Papiss Cisse.

In terms of assists, last season Salah managed only three, though has matched that amount already this time around just eight fixtures in.

Exactly where Salah would slot in for a Tottenham side already teeming with width isn’t immediately obvious. Though given the handshake-refusal-oriented controversies that arose on various occasions last season, there’s evidence to suggest the Egyptian midfielder might fit right in with the Premier League.

On a recent edition of The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, German Journo Rafa Honigstein recounted Basel’s Champions League play-off clash against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in which Salah, busy tying his shoelaces, allowed every one of the Israeli players to pass him by empty-handed during the pre-match custom.

However, the Egyptian was there to offer fist bumps all round to his opponents at the beginning of the second match, in which he scored Basel’s second goal. Top guy.

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