Munas Dabbur, the Prospect from Nazareth

A week ago, many football fans didn't really know who is Munas Dabbur. The Arab-Israeli striker from Red Bull Salzburg is one of the team's most prolific scorers in the last few seasons and he is even the top scorer in the end of the Europa League group stage.

Everything changed when one report claimed that Liverpool scouts are following him and he might arrive as a new addition to the squad during the winter transfer window. 

Who is Dabbur and why does he attract so much attention? 

Munas Dabbur began his football career at the youth club of Maccabi Ahi Nazareth, his hometown club. At the age of 18, Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the biggest clubs in Israel, decided to sign him.  His real breakthrough was in the 2013-14 season, under the guidance of the Portuguese coach, Paulo Sousa. He got more chances to play regular football and was an important part of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Europa League campaign. In February 2014 he got an offer from Swiss side Grasshoppers, that paid his release clause - 450,000 dollars.

Dabbur played three years in Switzerland. Even though he didn't win any trophies with his team, he was the Swiss league top scorer in 2016. His impressive record brought a new offer, as Red Bull Salzburg bought him for 7 million dollars. In his first months in Austria, Dabbur failed to show is abilities. Yet, Salzburg decided to make a wise step and loan him to Grashoppers until the end of the season. During his loan spell, Dabbur scored 7 goals in 13 matches and got his confidence back.

When Dabbur returned to Austria, there was no doubt about his place on the team. In 2017-18 season, Dabbur was the leading striker of Red Bull Salzburg and scored 22 league goals. Dabbur won the Austrian championship and was the league top scorer. Moreover, he led his team to the Europa League semi final, their best ever achievement.

His new place as a Liverpool prospect is not a mistake. He scored 6 goals in the Europa league group stage. During 2018 he scored 12 goals in European competition, more than any other player, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski.

Even though Dabbur is one of the best Israeli players today, there is always a question about his identity. As an Arab and Muslim that lived in Israel, his Palestinian descent was always an issue for fans. For example, in the end of a Israel - Guatemala friendly match, his teammate Beram Kayal posted on Instagram a photo of the six Arab-Israeli national team players. The post was mistranslated and fans said that the players, including Dabbur, are leading to segregation between the Arab players and the Jewish players.

Yet, Dabbur himself never expressed his identity publicly and left these issues away. He was asked more than once about this clash or about racism he faced and usually he answered that he prefers to focus on football and how proud he is to represent Israel. The mixture between Israeli and Arab identities can lead to some interesting issues. When Red Bull Salzburg was scheduled to have a training camp in Dubai, the authorities denied Dabbur’s visa due to his Israeli passport.

This situation can lead to even more problematic incidents. After the rumors about his possible move to Liverpool were published everywhere, Egyptian media sources reported that Liverpool’s key player, Mohamed Salah may ask to leave in order to avoid playing together with a player that represents Israel. Even though these reports were quoted around the world, nobody was surprised to figure out that it was just fake news.

No matter whether Dabbur will sign next month in Liverpool, it's clear that he is getting closer to his next destination. The boy from Nazareth that was always described as a hard worker that never give up is just about to make his dreams come true.

WATCH BabaGol Intercontinental video on the Mohamed Salah & Munas Dabbur story: