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Who is Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand?

Who is Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand?
Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand scores for the Arsenal u21s (Photo via David Price on Twitter)

The teenager was such a surprise addition to the senior squad that Arsenal didn’t even have a picture of him to put on the Emirates Stadium’s big screens pre-game, but he’s making a big impression around the club right now.

He’s made a small number of appearances for the club’s academy teams, and he’s much less well known than the likes of Charlie Patino or Omari Hutchinson, yet Mikel Arteta selected him for his bench against Leeds.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Arteta explained that Arsenal were “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”.

So where did Salah come from, and how has he managed to earn such a good internal reputation at Arsenal?

Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand joined Arsenal along with his younger brother Ismail in 2020, while he was just 17 years old or even not old enough to play casinos like those found at https://spcasinos.com/. There were reports of a disagreement between the players’ camp and their former club over their development pathways, and they ended up cancelling their contracts.

The Gunners picked both players up on a free transfer last August, and Salah immediately made a positive impression. In his first three games he was lively, creative, and technical, standing out from many of his u23 teammates despite the fact he was so young (having just turned 17 at the time) and such a new addition.

If things had continued like that for the remainder of the season, perhaps we would have seen the midfielder around the first-team squad even sooner. Unfortunately, injuries started to play a part in the story.

Salah-Eddine Oulad M'hand playing for the Arsenal u23s against Bournemouth (Photo via AFCB.co.uk)
Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand playing for the Arsenal u23s against Bournemouth (Photo via AFCB.co.uk)

Salah picked up a fracture close to his ankle, and he didn’t make any competitive appearances for Arsenal between mid-September 2020 and late-August 2021.

When he did return, there were obviously some doubts about whether the youngster would be able to pick up where he left off. But arguably, he’s been even better since his comeback.

In his seven starts for the Arsenal u23s between the EFL Trophy and the Premier League 2 this season, Salah has four goals and two assists.

He scored a 25-yard screamer against PL2 leaders Manchester City, he assisted a goal against Manchester United, he forced an own goal for Arsenal’s 10 men away to Chelsea, and he’s a big part of the u23 team’s recent improvement. When he got his first start against a senior team in the EFL Trophy against Newport County, he curled in an excellent free-kick.

Even when he’s not scoring or assisting, the Dutch youth international’s passing in tight areas is a big asset to the side.

Salah primarily plays as a central midfielder, an 8, roaming from box-to-box and making late runs into the area to get on the end of chances. He has strong close control, and he’s a hard player to press given his ability to spin away from opposition challenges or simply play a quick one-two with a teammate.

One of the things the Arsenal u23s lacked in their difficult campaign last season was fast and accurate passing in midfield. Salah’s return has helped to address this, along with the promotion of Charlie Patino and Omari Hutchinson.

LONDON, ENGLAND: Flo Balogun of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Salah Oulad M'Hand after scoring the team's first goal during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal U23 and Brighton & Hove Albion U23 at Emirates Stadium on October 01, 2021. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Flo Balogun of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Salah Oulad M’Hand after scoring the team’s first goal during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal U23 and Brighton & Hove Albion U23 at Emirates Stadium on October 01, 2021. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Through a fortunate coincidence, the Arsenal first team are also pretty light on creative central midfielders at the moment. Martin Odegaard signed over the summer, and the club also have Emile Smith Rowe, but that’s about it. And Smith Rowe is often used out on the left anyway.

To make the situation even more promising for Salah, Arsenal are going to lose Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny to AFCON in January, around the same time as the FA Cup kicks off. There’s every chance of more first-team openings if he keeps his recent form going.

At a club like Arsenal, you have to be patient. Salah might need a loan or two before he really gets a chance at regular first-team action in North London, and not everyone can explode onto the scene as quickly as Bukayo Saka did. For now, taking things one step at a time, the first-team call-up was some well-deserved recognition.

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