Mohamed Salah has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time.
The 21-year-old winger-forward could easily have been one of the legions of talented Egyptian footballers who, after impressing for a smaller club, get swallowed up by the Al-Ahly machine.
One of the dozens of promising youngsters who end up treading water at the region’s biggest club without being truly tested at the highest level, before plateauing at a level that can only be described as ‘advanced Championship’.
Big-money moves to top European clubs rarely materialise for Egyptian teens – their clubs usually want decent transfer fees for players who have not really been tested at a high enough level, who come with a wider (and unfair) reputation for unprofessionalism thanks to the antics of the likes of Mido, Amr Zaki and Hossam Ghaly.
The usual route would be to play for a smaller club in a top footballing nation, or a leading light in an intermediate European league. But then the likes of Ahly and, to a lesser extent, Zamalek usually step in, and the player is lost to the wider world.
But in the horrific aftermath of the Port Said Stadium disaster, that Egyptian league was cancelled.
The older players – those who had shunned moves abroad for the easy life of being a big fish in a medium-sized pond – shuttled off for short-term loan deals at Gulf clubs.
Some got a different opportunity – Steve Bruce loves a Pharaoh, so he took Gedo and Ahmed Fathy to Hull as the Tigers earned promotion. Gedo remains, Fathy is back at Ahly.
Those the right side of 21, however, were handed a real chance. Without Ahly to wave millions of Egyptian pounds their way, the likes of Salah and current Basel team-mate Mohamed Elneny were scouted, trialled and signed by the Swiss champions.
English fans will wonder why Salah hasn’t already been snapped up by one of Europe’s top clubs. In five European fixtures against English sides, he has scored four goals, weighed in with assists and been responsible for three shock results.
He has terrorised Premier League defences, mauled top-flight goalkeepers and at times single-handedly driven on his unfancied team.
3 - Mohamed Salah has scored in each of the last three meetings between Chelsea and Basel in European competition. Trouble.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 26, 2013
However, it is worth noting that these four goals comprise just under half his overall tally for the club in all competitions. Four goals from five sounds fantastic, but 11 in 47 is not quite so spectacular. For Mohamed Salah is a master in the art of excelling when it matters.
He is world class at putting himself in the shop window, but lacks consistency. His decision-making, final ball and finishing are also questionable in what can be frustrating performances (when it’s not Chelsea or Spurs, of course).
His international record, on first viewing, looks better under scrutiny. But how many of his 17 goals came in the two-legged play-off against Ghana? None.
It does seem that Salah thrives under a certain sort of pressure, but only when his side are the underdog.
The real pressure of being expected to perform and he can be found wanting.
This may seem harsh criticism of a raw 21-year-old only in his second year of European football. And perhaps it is a shade demanding to expect he maintains those standards throughout a season.
But with fans of English clubs – particularly Spurs and Chelsea – often asking if Salah is on their radar, it must be pointed out that the flashes of genius shown in those Europa League and Champions League matches are just that – flashes.
No (some) disrespect to Basle or the Swiss League, but why is Salah still playing there after what he did to Spurs and Chelsea last season? — James Maw (@JamesMawFFT) November 26, 2013
Good scouts watch players in training, in regular league matches, on international duty and – of course – in the endless stream of scouting clips offered by agents and internet video geeks.
A decision on a multi-million pound player is not taken lightly (unless that player is Bebe, ahem) and you would assume that scouts are watching Salah, and that clubs are giving him consideration.
Realistically, Salah could quickly make the step up to a better league, for an upper mid-table Premier League or Bundesliga club (his more direct approach may not suit La Liga at this stage). He would be a fine signing for Southampton, Swansea or – provided they don’t combust under Martin Jol – Fulham, a decent foil for Christian Benteke at Aston Villa, or Romelu Lukaku at Everton.
I really want him to play at the very highest level - when on song, he is a thrilling sight, unplayable as he is frustrating. He is easily Egypt's most promising player now the likes of Mohamed Aboutrika are to be put to pasture.
But until questions about his consistency are answered, don’t expect him to be wearing the blue of Chelsea next season.
On Twitter @Reda_Eurosport