A couple of weeks ago we reported on the troubles Ramzi Saleh had been facing with his club Al-Merreikh. It seemed that the talented shot-stopper would be released from his massive contract (2 years/$1 million) and allowed to field offers in the January transfer window.
Well... There's a twist. Al-Merreikh has just signed former Al-Ahly coach Hossam Al-Badri who has brought along Ahmad El-Nagy as a goalkeeper coach. El-Nagy is a big fan of Ramzi's and is part of the reason why Al-Ahly signed him back in 2008. It appeared to outsiders that Saleh's relationship with Al-Badri was frosty after being benched following an injury ridden spell in 2009. Saleh ended his second season with Al-Ahly as a third choice goalkeeper behind winter signing Sharif Ekramy and youth product Ahmed Abdel-Moneam.
Saleh dispelled the rumors in an interview to Modern Koora:
"I'm happy Al-Badri is here, he is a big name coach who was faced with enormous pressure and unfortunate circumstances when he was with Al-Ahly. I think [goalkeeper coach] Ahmad El-Nagy will help raise my level of play.... I'm not worried that he's here at all, the fact that he didn't count on me as a first choice goalkeeper [in Al-Ahly] can be considered a difference of opinion."
The Palestine captain also went on to say that he acted as a middle man between the club and Al-Badri and played an instrumental role in negotiations. There have been rumors, however, that Al-Badri will launch a bid to capture Zamalek goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary. El-Hadry has not played this season due to a ban levied on him after he unilaterally voided his contract to sign for Sion FC of Switzerland. Incidentally, Ramzi Saleh was signed by Al-Ahly to fill the void left by El-Hadry. When asked about the rumors, the three-time African Cup winner denied he has any contact with the Khartoum based club.
As for Ramzi Saleh, it's hard to believe that the fans or the club will accept him as the starter next season. Saleh has had some good performances, but he rushed back to play against Al-Hilal in a match that would decide the winner of the league. His performance was not up to par and the game ended 3-1 to Al-Hilal with Saleh being booed by his own fans. The situation was so bad that Ramzi Saleh was benched in favor of Mohammed Kamal for the Sudan Cup Final. Al-Merreikh were able to beat Al-Hilal 2-0 on that occasion thanks in part to a numerical advantage after one of the Al-Hilal players was sent off.
Before Al-Badri's signing, Goal.com reported that Ramzi Saleh was in the midst of negotiating with Arab Contractors (Mohammed Samara's club). Ramzi is currently demanding 2 million Egyptian pounds per season (around $365,000 USD). Arab Contractors have two goalkeepers on the roster but both of them have contracts expiring at the end of the season.
Ramzi Saleh's future is once again intertwined with El-Hadary's. If El-Hadary does indeed make the move to Al-Merreikh then Ramzi is a goner. No way he agrees to sit on the bench and chances are he won't be asked to given his massive contract. If El-Hadary goes somewhere else then I think Ramzi might choose to stick it out. He loves Ahmed El-Nagy, will play in the African Champions League, and will be able to see out the rest of that $1 million contract.