Can Mohamed Salah & Ahmed Hegazi buck the trend for Egyptians in the Premier League?

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool no_source

Despite producing some of Africa's greatest players, Egypt's exports to the Premier League have had little success in England.

Unlike some of Africa's other great footballing nations, Egypt have a fairly underwhelming record when it comes to exporting talent overseas, and specifically to Europe's top leagues.

It's been a marked difference between the last three great teams of African football - Cameroon's side at the turn of the century, Ivory Coast's 'Golden Generation' and the Egyptian team that won three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments in a row in the last decade - that the first two teams almost entirely played in Europe, whereas the Pharaohs were largely a home-based unit.

While the likes of Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o and Michael Essien were winning national and continental silverware in Europe, Egypt's greatest players of the last decade almost exclusively enjoyed the finest moments of their club career at home.

Wael Gomaa never played outside his homeland - despite tantalising preseason trials at Blackburn Rovers - nor did Emad Moteab, while Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Aboutrika (sadly) never ventured beyond the Arab Peninsular.

Essam El-Hadary and Ahmed Hassan enjoyed successes in Switzerland, Belgium and Turkey, and Hossam Hassan spent a few seasons at the beginning of his career in Europe.

One major exception is perhaps Mohamed Zidan, but despite winning two Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund, there's a sense that injuries prevented him from truly realising his potential in Germany.

In England, success has largely eluded Egyptian players.

Despite being relegated twice, Ahmed Elmohamady has been an established Premier League player, while Gedo, Mohamed Shawky and Ahmed Fathi struggled to show their best form at Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United respectively.

Amr Zaki, Hossam Ghaly and Mido - who could have a feature all to himself - are arguably the biggest disappointments after each thriving upon their arrival to England.

Zaki's goals on loan at Wigan Athletic have largely been forgotten after he was criticised by Steve Bruce for disrespecting the club after returning from international duty late.

Ghaly, on trial at Birmingham City after burning his bridges at Tottenham Hotspur, also fell foul of the current Aston Villa boss and was accused of unprofessionalism.

Mido's playing career constituted a litany of fall outs and fitness problems, and he struggled to build on his early promise at Spurs and ended his time in England in flabby ignominy at West Ham United, Middlesbrough and Barnsley.

Not a fitting finale for a player who boasted such an intoxicating mix of talents and once kept Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the Ajax team.

Following his toils at Chelsea and eventual departure from Stamford Bridge during his first spell in England, Mohamed Salah had become the latest Egyptian to leave the Premier League without showing his true colours.

However, like Mido, Zaki and Fathi before him, he returned for a second bite of the cherry, and the opportunity to prove that this Pharaoh can be a success in the top flight.

Based on the evidence of Saturday's showing - in Liverpool's 3-3 draw with Watford - Salah appears primed to buck the trend.

Initially, Salah may have struggled to impose himself against a physical Hornets side, but he established himself after the break, found the net and was unfortunate not to add to his tally.

He also won the penalty from which Roberto Firmino scored Liverpool's equaliser, and on a different day - had it not been for Miguel Britos's late effort - he would have been feted for both scoring the winner and inspiring the Reds to three points in their opener.

Salah's intelligent movement, his speed and - perhaps most importantly - his relentless hunger to make things happen in the final third, ensured that Watford's backline couldn't rest easy, and he looked to be a perfect fit both for Jurgen Klopp's intense style and the inventive forward play of teammates Firmino and Sadio Mane.

However, the former Roma man wasn't the only Egyptian to have shone on his competitive debut this weekend, with West Bromwich Albion new boy Ahmed Hegazi enjoying an introduction to the Prem that he won't be forgetting in a while.

The powerful centre-back was an intriguing summer signing by Tony Pulis, with the defender's progress having stalled earlier in his career - during a disappointing move to Fiorentina - before returning to his homeland with Ahly.

While a switch to Italy was the making of Salah, it served only to set Hegazi back after his encouraging showings at the 2012 Olympics.

However, the Nesta of the Pyramids has all the tools to thrive in the Prem, and at The Hawthorns, where, with Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans absent, he started alongside Craig Dawson in the heart of the Throstles' backline against Bournemouth.

Hegazi made a whopping 10 clearances during the match - evidence of the anticipation and bravery that have made him such a pillar of the current Egyptian side, following in the footsteps of the aforementioned Gomaa - while his primary contribution came at the other end of the pitch when he headed a Chris Brunt free kick past Asmir Begovic.

A combination of Brunt's delivery and Pulis's rigorous set-piece routines should ensure that Hegazi has ample opportunity to add to his tally this term, while the defender also demonstrated enough - with the ball at his feet - to suggest that he can offer a little more than some of the stoppers that typically pad out the Baggies' backline.

These are early days - of course - Ghaly, Mido and Zaki all enjoyed the odd glorious afternoon in England, but the evidence of Saturday's outings suggest that Egypt's current contingent in the top flight may yet buck the trend of their compatriots past.