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Arabs leaving their mark on top flight European football

The UK Premier League kicked off last week, and the UEFA Champions League is slated to begin next month. So, we have taken the chance to look at some key Arabs with a role in these European tournaments, be they players, managers, or even owners.

Arab players striving to make their countrymen proud

What would a list of Arab players in European teams be without Mohamed Salah, often dubbed the “Egyptian Messi.” The Liverpool FC star continues to rise in popularity at home and abroad, and despite not being able to single-handedly carry his team at the World Cup, great things are expected of him in the 2018/2019 Premier League.

Salah recently renewed his contract with Liverpool, putting to rest rumors that he was transferring to Real Madrid in place of Cristiano Ronaldo. His move from Roma to Liverpool cost $47 million, according to official figures. He reportedly earns $254,000 per week, a salary bump from his early days with Liverpool. Salah is proving that the hype isn’t all for nothing, scoring Liverpool’s first goal in this season’s Premier League.

Riyad Mahrez, an Algerian right winger, was transferred from Leicester FC to Manchester City FC last month, for a significant $77.1 million. His current market value is $68.3 million.

Algerian Yacine Brahimi plays for FC Porto. Sportskeeda praises him as a “technically gifted player.” His market value is $29.6 million.

Medhi Benatia is Morocco’s man in Juventus, still going strong at age 31 as a defender for the Italian club. His transfer deal from Bayern Munich to Juventus in 2017 cost $19.3 million. His market value is $26.1 million, according to Transfermarkt.

Faouzi Ghoulam is another prominent Algerian player, playing for SSC Napoli. He was named Algerian Footballer of the Year in 2017. His market value is $28.4 million.

Mohamed Elneny could be looking to make a name for himself the way his countryman Salah has done. The Egyptian Elneny plays for Arsenal. His current market value is $11.37.

Sofiane Hanni, the attacking midfielder playing for Spartak Moscow, Russia’s most successful club, is yet another Algerian. His transfer deal from Anderlecht to Spartak cost $9.1 million.

Achraf Hakimi made history last year when, at age 18, became the first Arab player to ever join Real Madrid. He is currently on loan to German Borussia Dortmund. Hakimi is Moroccan. His market value is $7.5 million.

READ: Is Mohamed Salah the hero Egypt needs?

European clubs owned by Arabs

Manchester City FC was bought in 2008 by the Abu Dhabi United Group, which is subsequently owned by the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. His time with Manchester City proved transformative for the team, going from a consistently weak showing to a glowing performance in the following years, winning several European championships following the Emirati purchase.

Manchester City FC is the 5th most valuable football club in the world, valued at $2.474 billion, according to Forbes.

Paris St. Germain switched ownership in 2011, when Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, Chairman of Qatar Sports Investments, bought the club for $90.1 million. It is currently the 11th most valuable football team in the world, according to Forbes. It’s current value is $971 million.

English Hull City FC was bought in 2010 by Egyptian businessman Assem Allam. Sportskeeda reports that he has promised to invest over $50.8 million in the club, as he had studied at the University of Hull in the past, and wanted to thank the city for its contribution towards his personal development.

His time with the team has been controversial, and in 2017 he announced that he is willing to sell the team.

The Spanish Malaga FC was bought by Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family,  in 2010.

READ: The harsh truth about Arab teams’ failures at the World Cup

Are there any Arab managers coaching European teams?

Currently, no Arab coaches are presiding over any of the European teams. Zinedine Zidane, the legendary French player that was recently managing Real Madrid, is of Algerian descent. That is the closest the region has gotten in recent years with an Arab manager coaching a European football club.

Zidane is estimated to be worth $70 million, according to UK news site Express.

READ: 7 things you might not know about Saudi’s Football Team