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Mattice Blog 1 Africa Sebastian Pervaza

There is always a need for new players in the worlds sport. Young talents can come from
anywhere, which is why it is so important for a scout to do his or her job at their best. If they
miss even a single game, they could have just lost sight of the next big name. The question is
always up for grabs, “Where is the best place to scout for skilled youth?” This is part one of four,
todays topic being Africa.
When asked about African stars, North Africa doesn’t usually come to mind. However,
this region has recently produced some world-class players as well as some promising prospects.
Let’s begin with Egypt. At the ripe age of 26, Mohamed Salah is currently in his prime. He
currently plays for the English club Liverpool and the Egyptian national team. He is also one of
the most expensive players at the moment. Mohamed started his career at El Mokawloon, an
Egyptian youth club. He gradually made a name for himself at this team and earned many first
team minutes. The Swiss club Basel had sent a scout in Egypt who was watching Mohamad
progress. They invited his U-23 team to a friendly. This match is what made Basel purchase
Mohamed and put his name all over Europe.
Mohamed Salah has since been to English Club
Chelsea and Italian club Roma before being transferred to
his current club of Liverpool. He saw outrageous success at
Liverpool. He is their record signing and is currently one of
the best investments Liverpool have made. Mohamed
scored a total of 43 goals in his debut season, which is
higher than any player in Liverpool. At this point in the
Mohamed Salah at Liverpool season he was outscoring Harry Kane and Lionel Messi. At the end of the season he was awarded the Premier League
Golden Boot. This season has seen him earn the Best
African Footballer Award as well.
Still on Egypt, lets mention a prospect who is
still on his way to reaching the top ranks. Sharing the
same age and forename as Salah, Mohamed Elneny
currently plays for the English club Arsenal and the
national team of Egypt. Interestingly enough, Elneny
has nearly the same start as Salah. He started his
professional career at El Mokawloon and was later
scouted by the same team, Basel, who he later signed
for. While at Basel, the team flourished. They kept Mohamed Elneny at Arsenal
winning the league title and regularly reached cup
Later in his career, Elneny made a move to Arsenal where he fit right in. He was in form
at the club, working well with many of the players, especially Aaron Ramsey. In May 2016, he
earned the Arsenal player of the month, beating renowned players such as Mesut Özil and Granit
Xhaka. He signed late into the season and only managed to get a single goal during the 2016-
2017 season. However, this single goal was awarded goal of the season.
Next up, is a wonderful country called Morocco. This nation provides us with places like
Casablanca and Marrakesh. They were also generous enough to produce some skilled players.
Hakim Ziyech, 25, has been on fire since his appearance in Europe. He started his career at the
Mattice Blog 1 Africa Sebastian Pervaza

Dutch club Heerenveen, where he saw very little

playtime. After a year he signed for Twente, another
Dutch club, which used him nearly the same way.
No one would’ve expected him to thrive. He only
made a few goals and was later transferred to the
Dutch giant, Ajax.
Hakim saw a great transition at his current
club. He went from an average player to a name in Hakim Ziyech at Ajax
the headlines. He made few goals but contributed to
many assists. He got called up to the Moroccan
national team and has helped his small nation reach
the group stages of the World Cup. He has a great
future ahead of him and is currently a phenomenal player.
Up until this point, every player mentioned has
played a fairly attacking role. Let’s introduce a player who
protects the team at the back. An old but a gold player,
Medhi Benatia. He is experience at the age of 31 and
recently transferred to a club in Qatar. Medhi started at the
French club of Marseille, where he saw a few loans before
getting transferred to Italy. He made 80 appearances for
Medhi Benatia at Juventus Udinese before transferring to Roma. In 2014, Medhi finally found a team that was right for him. He had signed
for the German side Bayern Munich. He played for two
successful seasons at this club and generating high statistics such as a high pass completion rate
and clean sheets.
Afterward, Benatia left Munich to go back to Italy, except this time he went to the largest
club in the state; Juventus. He spent the last majority of his popularity at this club. Many
considered him one of the best center backs of the Serie A. He had seen plenty of first team time.
In January of this year he made a move to the Qatari club Al-Duhail. Keep in mind Benatia has
been playing internationally for Morocco since 2008. Playing alongside Ziyech in the 2018 FIFA
World Cup.
Another region scouts frequent is the West African
region. Most of these countries have seen international
success and have produced some promising players in the
past. Let’s take a look at one of Guineas best players. Naby
Keïta is the youngest on this list at 23 years of age. He has
made quite the impact as a footballer. He started playing at
the age of 9 in his hometown., playing for Horoya AC. He Naby Keïta at Liverpool
moved to France and had many failed attempts at a lot of
the League 2 teams. He eventually got to the first team of
Istres and making 11 goals in 23 games. His team got
demoted to the Championnat National, 3rd French Division.
In 2014, his career turned around drastically after Austrian club RB Salzburg had scouted
him and offered him a spot on the team. That season he went on to help his team win the league
Mattice Blog 1 Africa Sebastian Pervaza

and a double cup. He was then called up to play for his home team of Guinea. In 2015, he was
awarded the Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Year. The sister club, RB Leipzig in Germany,
offered him a spot on the team. While playing for them, he was chosen for the UEFA Europa
League Team of the Season. He signed for the English side Liverpool in 2017, where he
currently plays alongside Mohamad Salah. He has been an engine in the team so far.
In addition to Guinea, Senegal has produced a
number of players that currently play all over the world. One
player in coming out of this country is 24-year-old Mbaye
Niang. He started playing at the age of 7 and was scouted by
the French club Caen. He signed for Caen’s youth team and
scored a hat-trick just after. He was then spotted by many of
Europe’s largest clubs but came to an agreement with the
Mbaye Niang at Torino Italian club AC Milan. He became Milan’s second youngest goal scorer and signed an extension to his contract when he hit
Niang got called up for the national team at this time. And has helped his team make it to
the World Cup. Currently, Niang is on a loan spell, constantly leaving Milan to other clubs for a
season at a time. Each team has an option to buy but none have done so, yet. Niang’s potential as
a club player has yet to be reached. Which is why he remains one to watch.
Our next player was scouted by French team Metz, from his hometown in Senegal. Sadio
Mané, who’s 26, is currently one of the biggest names in English football. He left France for RB
Salzburg and was part of the same squad as Naby Keïta. Sadio managed to net himself multiple
hat-tricks for the club and seemed to be an amazing prospect for Salzburg. However, on the
biggest game for the team, he missed the training and was forced to transfer.
As unfortunate as it sounds, Sadio still had a
future ahead of him. Southampton was the first team to
acquire him. With this transfer, he proved himself
worthy once more. He carried Southampton to victory
on many occasions and helped them through the Europa
League. This took the attention of many clubs. Liverpool
gave him an offer that he agreed to. Which, again, put
him on the same team as Naby Keïta. The two of them Sadio Mané at Liverpool
still play together here. His transfer fee of £34 million
broke the record for the most expensive African player
at the time. Sadio also appeared on the Senegalese team sheet for the World Cup.
The last Senegalese player here is a man named Kalidou Koulibaly, 27, who currently
plays for the Italian side Napoli. Like Sadio, Kalidou started at a young age in his hometown in
Senegal. He was also later scouted by the same French club Metz. Two years later he signed for
the Belgian club Genk. And after two years at this club, he transferred for a low price to his
current club of Napoli.
Mattice Blog 1 Africa Sebastian Pervaza

Napoli didn’t realize it at the time, but Kalidou would

soon be one of the best investments they would make. After
signing in 2014, he got many first team minutes and proved
he belonged on the team. He is now considered one of the
best center backs in the world, landing himself in last years
FIFA Team of the Year promo. His price went from ~£9
million to £70 million in just 4 years.
These are just a few examples of African players that Kalidou Koulibaly at Napoli
where scouted from the bottom. Each player proved
themselves to be worthy of first team action. As you can see, three of the players here are playing
for Liverpool. At the time of this post, Liverpool are doing exceptionally well in the league.
These players have an impact and can help any team succeed. Stay tuned for the next part.