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Not to be confused with Liverpool's Egyptian talisman Mohammed Salah, Arsenal may have one of their own breaking onto the scene in the new year. With the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli all flourishing after spells in the U23 side, it looks like the best way to gain a chance at breaking through Mikel Arteta's thriving first team squad is through Kevin Betsy's Hale End side.
Salah Eddine Oulad M'Hand or simply known as 'Salah' was called up for the first team in their Carabao Cup round of 16 tie against Leeds United. Although he didn't feature in the side, it showed that consistent performances in the academy can be rightfully rewarded. The 18-year-old joined the Arsenal ranks from Eredevisie outfit Feyenoord after climbing through from the U17s to the U19s. He left for North London in the summer of 2020, and the Dutchman has been superb so far in his Arsenal career.
Salah's best highlight is undoubtedly his first professional goal, adorning the number 65 against Newport County in the EFL Trophy earlier this season. The 18-year-old's free kick from distance was curled spectacularly bending over the experienced defenders in the wall, as the U21s went on to win 4-3, and then beat League One side Ipswich Town on penalties in the succeeding tie. The U21s were drawn against Chelsea U21s who have been struggling in the Premier League 2 this campaign but will be looking to avenge and carry a solid run in the prestigious tournament.
Salah is best in an attacking midfielder spot sandwiched in between the highly rated Folarin Balogun up top, and one of Hale End's finest talents according to many coaches and experts, Charlie Patino. In 14 appearances in all competitions, Salah has netted four times and assisted twice, propelling Betsy's side into 4th in the league.
What the Boss thinks:
The midfielder is highly regarded by Mikel Arteta after the win against Leeds telling media that, “[We are] rewarding him – for what he does every day in training and the games that he’s playing, for his attitude and the quality he has – he totally deserves to be with us."
With Salah being the predominant midfielder in the 'CAM' role for the U23s and the talent of Omari Hutchinson, Kido Taylor-Hart, Ben Cottrell, the academy are in an exciting period. It's important to add that Mika Biereth and Folarin Balogun top the rankings of the most attacking duo in the PL2 with a combined 19 total goals this season alone.
On the International stage:
The 18-year-old has also been involved in the Netherlands international setup making appearances in the U15 and U17 side but no goal involvement to his name yet. With a heavy load of fixtures coming up for the Gunners in the dreaded month of December and a cup tie against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup, it might be a chance for some academy players to make the bench, if not feature as a substitute.
If Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli can do it for Arsenal, James McAtee and Cole Palmer for Manchester City, Joe Gelhardt for Leeds United and Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage for Manchester United in the Champions League, it's not long before the starlets in Kevin Betsy's squad will prosper in the transition to the first team stage at the Emirates. And Salah Eddine Oulad M'Hand could be one of them.