Is Mahmoud Wadi headed to Europe next season?

It might be hard to fathom but a little over three years ago Mahmoud Wadi’s career was in a state of permanent limbo. After a promising start to life with Ahli Khaleel- one in which he took the 2016 AFC Cup by storm as a 20 year old- his sophomore season came to a sudden halt.

With Israel blocking his return to the West Bank, Mahmoud Wadi was forced to return to his boyhood club, Ittihad Khan Younes, and ply his trade in obscurity. As luck would have it, in 2017 he managed to get out of Gaza- secure a transfer to Ahli Amman in the Jordanian Premier League and make his national team debut before the year’s culmination.

Dominating performances for a midtable side in Jordan confirmed what many Palestinian observers already knew; Mahmoud Wadi is a physical specimen and an excellent footballer. Al-Masry signed the Gazan on a two year deal in 2018 and extended him at season’s end in 2019.

Moving to Egypt, widely recognized as the Arab World’s and Africa’s strongest league, was a step up for Wadi. That said, it didn’t take him very long to settle with Al-Masry. Fans were made to wait awhile for his first goal but when he got it, he scored it in style.

A cheeky backheel against UM Alger in the CAF Confederations Cup marked the first goal in a campaign that net seven goals and two assists in league play and another two goals in Confederations Cup play. Those nine goals made Wadi the team’s top scorer in both competitions and earned him a new contract as a result.

While Al-Masry didn’t win any plaudits for their style, they were an effective a tough unit as evidenced by their semifinal finish in the Confederations Cup and fourth place finish in the League (behind established powers Al-Ahly and Al-Zamalek and big spenders Pyramids FC).

Without the creativity and attacking prowess, Al-Masry was always going to be threatened with a return to the mean. While their 2019/2020 continental campaign resulted in a quarterfinal finish thanks to Wadi’s five goals and one assist across ten games the club’s domestic form has suffered.

Things only got worse when Wadi was ruled out after the restart due to a positive Coronavirus test. Wadi returned to Al-Masry’s ranks this month and has helped stabilize the squad with two goals in two victories. A 0-0 draw against El-Geish yesterday (Wadi came off the bench) extended the club’s unbeaten run with the Palestinian participating.

Next Stop: Europe?

During the Egyptian league’s unscheduled COVID-19 break it seemed that Mahmoud Wadi would leave the club for the greener pastures of Zamalek or Pyramids. Tariq Al-Ashry, Al-Masry’s president stood strong and refused to sell- recognizing that selling his team’s top scorer in the midst of a relegation battle would most likely doom the club:

“I will not agree to the player’s departure to the White Castle next summer, given the team’s need for his services in the coming period, adding: ””Wadi and any other player will not leave at this time at all, we are trying to build a team capable of winning tournaments. And competition is tough.”

That said, staying might have been to Wadi’s advantage. The powerful striker has never hid his ambitions of doing all in his power to play for Real Madrid. A move to Europe before his 26th birthday would get Wadi closer to his goal.

The nature of his contract which was renegotiated in 2019 seems to give the player an option to leave as per details included on Tansfermarkt. Despite repeated denials from the club, Wadi’s agent- Asayd Al-Khader- has insisted multiple times that this would be his client’s final year with Al-Masry.

It is obvious that Wadi needs to get to a club that can give him more consistent service. In his three years abroad, Wadi has played for clubs that hoof the ball forward and against bigger clubs Wadi has had to create and finish chances on his own. As a result his goal tally is not exactly eye popping. He has yet to score for the national team but played a key role in Palestine’s famous 2-0 win over Uzbekistan in World Cup qualifying last year.

Wadi and his agent have rejected an offer from a big Egyptian club, widely speculated to be from Zamalek which was rejected- publicly at least- by the club and the player.

In July, Al-Khader has revealed that Wadi had also received offers from the Gulf, Greece, and Turkey. While also assuring that Wadi had a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave the club.

A month later, the plot thickened with Al-Khader revealing that the club had received an official offer from a Dutch club to take the Palestinian on loan with an option to buy.

The agent further reiterated that Wadi would not be with Al-Masry or in the Egyptian league at all next year.

Should the Dutch Eredivisie be Wadi’s eventual destination then Feyernoord might just be the destination. The Rotterdam based side is the only club to have brought directly from the Egyptian Premier League having brought Haytham Farouk from Olympic Club in 1996 and Sherif Ekramy and Hosam Ghaly from Al-Ahly seven years later.

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