Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole are no-one’s idea of a pushover. The Serbian strongman is as tough a defender as they come, while England international Cole is one of the most consistent full-backs in the world.
So, it came as a surprise when both were roasted in the home and away group games respectively by FC Basel’s talented Egyptian winger, Mohamed Salah.
Cole was tormented at Stamford Bridge. Ivanovic got the treatment at St. Jakob-Park. To borrow a famous Sir Alex Ferguson phrase, he left the Chelsea full-backs with ‘twisted blood’.
Basel ended up winning both games against Jose Mourinho’s side, with Salah scoring in both. Since signing for the Swiss Super League outfit in 2012, Salah has gone from strength to strength for his club. He has excelled on the international stage as well, being conferred the Confederation of African Federations Most Promising African Talent of the Year award in 2012.
Salah scored for Egypt in each of the group games in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and was the top scorer overall in the African World Cup qualifiers.
Blessed with copious amounts of pace, superb in one-on-one situations, and with decent strength and excellent technical skills, he is potentially a great fit for the English game.
There were rumours about Liverpool's and Tottenham's interest. It is hardly surprising – his consistently stellar performances for Basel, especially in the Champions League, make him a hot commodity in European football.
Besides Spurs, a number of Bundesliga clubs have scouted him. The surprise is why the other big clubs in England are not vying for his signature. Valued at 15 to 20 million pounds, he will be a steal considering his talents, and a terrific addition to any squad.