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Egypt expected to have fewer foreign-based footballers in 2015

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 31 Dec 2014
Egyptians abroad
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Several foreign-based players are expected to cut short their spells and return to Egypt after having less than successful adventures, with the national team hardly benefiting from an exodus of footballers into European football.

The likes of Shikabala, Mahmoud Ezzat Ali Fathi and Mohamed Ibrahim - who are all based in Portugal - are likely to rejoin their former clubs while reports suggest Cairo giants Ahly might lure midfielder Mahmoud Kahraba, who plays for Grasshopper in Switzerland.

Mohamed Salah, Egypt's most high-profile player in Europe, may leave English Premier League side Chelsea on loan, with widespread reports indicating that his next destination would be Inter Milan in Italy.

Others are expected to stay put, including Hull City's Ahmed Elmohamady (England), Basel's Mohamed Elneny and Ahmed Hamoudi (Switzerland), Sporting Lisbon's Rami Rabia (Portugal), Rio Ave's Ahmed Koka (Portugal) and Nacional's Saleh Gomaa (Portugal).

Ahram Online takes a look at the prospects of some of Egypt's foreign-based players in 2015.

Mahmoud Ezzat and Ali Fathi (Nacional da Madeira, Portugal)

Defender Ezzat and midfielder Fathi joined Nacional from Egypt's Arab Contractors on a season-long loan but they hardly made an impact during their brief stay in Portugal.

Ezzat could only make five appearances in all competitions while Fathi played just three games.

Local reports said both will return to Contractors in the January transfer window after Nacional deemed them surplus to requirements.

Mahmoud Abdel-Razek 'Shikabala (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal)

Shikabala, a talented schemer who is consistently crticisied by Egyptian media for failing to live up to his potential due to some off-field antics, realized his long-held dream of moving to Europe after joining Sporting Lisbon from Cairo's Zamalek in January 2014.

He initially struggled with fitness problems and could only make one competitive appearance before incurring the wrath of his club after going AWOL after taking part in two Nations Cup qualifying games with Egypt in September.

Reports said he wanted to return to Zamalek after failing to break into Sporting's starting line-up but is likely to find it difficult to terminate his contract with the club, who sanctioned him due to his unauthorized absence.

Mohamed Ibrahim (Maritimo, Portugal)

Ibrahim, who also came through the youth ranks of Zamalek, has repeatedly asked the club to let go of him and his wish was finally granted when Maritimo came calling last summer.

The attacking midfielder, who was one of Zamalek's best performers, penned a five-year contract with Maritimo but struggled to play on a regular basis, making five appearances in all competitions.

He has grown increasingly homesick and has asked the club to offload him amid interest from Zamalek to re-sign him. However, it remains highly unlikely that Zamalek would be able to meet the financial demands of Maritimo.

Mohamed Salah (Chelsea, England)

Every time Chelsea play, a social media frenzy hits any post about Salah, with thousands of Egyptians either querying about whether he is included in the team's squad or launching angry outbursts against coach Jose Mourinho if he is left out.

The 22-year-old, who joined Chelsea from Swiss side Basel in January 2014, is the most followed Egyptian footballer overseas but his spell in England could come to a premature end.

Although he put in a series of fine displays towards the end of last season, he is mainly playing a bit-part role this term.

He could only make six appearances in all competitions, including two in the Premier League and two in the Champions League, and has failed to find the net.

 Salah, who is usually criticized for being profligate, is heavily linked with a loan move to Inter Milan, with coach Roberto Mancini describing him as a "young and very interesting player".

Mahmoud Kahraba (Grasshopper, Switzerland)

The central midfielder has hinted that he would like to join Cairo giants Ahly as his six-month loan spell at Grasshopper is coming to an end.

Kahraba, who was offloaded by Luzern last season for disciplinary reasons, is unlikely to continue his Swiss spell beyond the end of the loan deal.

Ahly have made no comment over whether they are interested in signing him in the January transfer window.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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