How good is Saleh Gomaa – An expert insight into United’s midfield target

by Tom Parker

In the past week, Manchester United have been strongly linked with Egyptian international Saleh Gomaa with the ENPPI midfielder claiming to have been offered a trial with the club, as Sir Alex Ferguson searches for reinforcements in a bid to aid United’s flagging engine room.

To find out some more about Gomaa, I caught up with Mohamed Seif who is a former Goal.com reporter, TV pundit and founder of the fantastic kingfut.com, which is dedicated to Egyptian football.

Gomaa is something of an unknown quantity outside of Egypt, but he has been making plenty of waves in his homeland. How well has he fared for ENPPI and the national team?

In April 2012, Saleh made headlines after getting involved indirectly in a selection dilemma between managers of the national team, the U23 team and U20 team.

Saleh Gomaa isn’t quite the finished article even though he managed to achieve extraordinary results on the national team level. He made his national team debut against Niger in 2011 at the tender age of 18. In 2012, each head coach of the concurrent national team chose Gomaa in his respective squad due to his excellence in the midfield. Saleh then took part of the London 2012 Olympics with the Egyptian national team, making it to the quarter finals.

Check out Saleh Gomaa’s complete Player Profile on KingFut.com.

Gomaa is often described as a Xabi Alonso type player. Is this a fair comparison or does he bear resemblance to a different player?

If he was to be compared to a player, his style would most likely be similar to Andres Iniesta or Cesc Fabregas.

Saleh is of a totally different style in comparison to Xabi Alonso. The only link between them could be the accurate vision in terms of dictating passes and long balls. But in other ways, Saleh is quicker, more skillful, lighter and less defensive than Alonso.

He’s often talked of as one of the brightest talents in Egyptian football, does he have the talent to cut it at a club of United’s stature?

He’s got the potential to become part of the United squad but after close development and monitoring.

He must first participate with the reserves team in order to accumulate and adapt to the English and United style of play. Then Saleh should go out on loan a year or two to a Championship club for competitive games and then I think by the age of 22 or 23, he might be ready to break in the first team squad. Question would be though – would he be the right player at this moment and time for us?

Foreign players often struggle to adapt to the physical nature of the Premier League. Does Gomaa seem to be a player who could cope with the physicality of the British game given his diminutive stature?

In football nowadays, size doesn’t matter much. It’s about the inner strength and the ability to endure all action within the game.

Players may be big in size but can easily be bullied around inside the field. It’s up to the medical team and scouting department within the club to assess if the player is strong enough to fit in the squad and the style of play in the team or not. A club like Stoke City depends on physical strength in all its tactics, so he definitely wouldn’t fit there! He would however fit quite nicely in a squad that’s dependent on technicality, intricate passing and possession play.

While currently plying his trade for ENPPI, he has attracted the attention of a number clubs. Where do you see his next destination in football being?

I would prefer his next destination to be the Premier League as it’s my favorite in Europe. Adding to that, Egyptians who played in English Football (Premier League/Championship) have excelled and showed their class and stature, from Mido to Ghaly to Shawky to Zaky. But what Egyptian players miss is consistency and continuing on the same form for a couple of years, in addition to the proper mentality and professionalism.

Given his potential, and his quite phenomenal achievements on the international stage considering his tender years, what would he cost if he were to move this summer?

ENPPI, Saleh Gomaa’s club, has sold two major players to Europe in the last five years. Their first deal was Amr Zaky who moved to Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow and Ahmed El Mohamady, current a Hull City player on loan from Sunderland. The club sold both players for a sum that is above the €1 million bracket, so it was good business for them.

It’s still not tangible whether they would ask the same amount for Saleh, noting that El Mohamady and Zaky were regular starters for the Egyptian National team before their sale. Egyptian clubs however tend to over-price players way above their market value.

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