Chelsea flop Salah will prove worth the money and the wait for Liverpool

HD Mohamed Salah
The Reds' refusal to meet Basel's asking price saw them miss out on the Egyptian three years ago - they must avoid making the same mistake again


Liverpool are finally set to get their man. Three years after seeing Jose Mourinho sweet-talk Mohamed Salah into rejecting the Reds for Chelsea, the Egypt international is belatedly ready to a move to Anfield.

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The fee has yet to be agreed, though, and Liverpool must avoid making the same mistake they made in January 2014.

At the time, Salah was the most exciting player in a Basel side that had repeatedly held their own against English opposition in European competition. Liverpool had opened talks with their Swiss counterparts in October 2013 but were reluctant to meet the asking price of £11 million.

Mohamed Salah Mourinho Chelsea Liverpool PS

"Negotiations took a long time because Basel rejected more than one offer," Salah explained in April 2016. "They felt the transfer fee was not that high.

"I was waiting for Liverpool [to agree terms with Basel] because I really like Liverpool. I was eager to join them.

"But then I received a phone call from Mourinho and that changed everything.

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"He explained the situation to me and told me that he needed me at Chelsea. Mourinho told me that he thought I was a good player and that he wanted me to pick Chelsea."

Salah obliged, and joined the Blues on January 23. Mourinho had seen first-hand just how effective the Basyoun native could be, with Salah having scored in both of Basel's Champions League group-stage wins over Chelsea that very season.

However, the forward spent the majority of his first six weeks in west London sitting on the bench. Two goals in three appearances, against Arsenal and Stoke, looked to have kick-started his career but his campaign petered out.

For the first half of the 2014-15 season, he struggled to even make the bench, seeing just 30 minutes of game time in the Premier League before being loaned to Fiorentina.

Salah was reborn in Florence, though, taking Serie A by storm with six goals and three assists in 16 games, as well as playing a pivotal role in the Viola's run to the semi-finals of the Europa League.

He had essentially been a makeweight in the deal that saw Juan Cuadrado leave Fiorentina for Chelsea and, after watching the Egyptian turn in a scintillating display against Tottenham, then coach Vincenzo Montella was asked who got the better deal.

"We got €30m and Salah - I think it's worked out okay for us," he said, smiling.

Mohamed Salah Jose Mourinho Chelsea

Mohamed Salah Fiorentina

Mohamed Salah Roma Juventus

Joy would soon turn to frustration in Tuscany, though. Fiorentina thought that they had Salah under contract for another 12 months. Chelsea and Roma had other ideas, though, with Salah instead being loaned to the capital club for an initial fee of €5m.

Salah continued to shine at the Stadio Olimpico, where he racked up 14 goals and eight assists in 34 games, and it came as no surprise when the Giallorossi paid an additional €15m to acquire him outright last summer.

It has proven money very well spent, with Salah proving even more influential during the 2016-17 campaign, with 15 goals and 11 assists.

There will be some Liverpool fans wondering if £40m (€40m) is really good business for a player who failed to make the grade at Chelsea but Salah has grown and his game has developed in the interim.

His time at Stamford Bridge was a chastening experience but he learned from it.

"It was a key moment in my career and my life. I was young, and suddenly I was alongside one of the best tacticians in the world [Mourinho], with exceptional players," Salah said in January of this year.

"I didn't play much, it's true, and I was not necessarily happy. I wanted to show what I was capable of. I was sad not to be able to do that.

"In spite of everything, I had a very good relationship with Mourinho."

Salah should now prove an excellent addition to a Liverpool squad that was shown to be desperately short on pace whenever Sadio Mane was unavailable for selection last season.

While he is not quite as quick as his fellow African, Salah is a direct, dynamic attacker with an eye for both a pass and a goal.

Mohamed Salah Roma Stats PS

Not one of Mane, Philippe Coutinho or Roberto Firmino scored more goals or racked up more assists than Salah last season. The Egyptian also made more fast breaks (3) than the trio combined (2), underlining that he will only make Liverpool even more deadly on the counter-attack.

Manager Jurgen Klopp will expect more from him from a defensive perspective but his defensive stats from last season (113 recoveries and 26 tackles made, with a success rate of 84.62 per cent) show that he is not afraid to put himself about.

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Indeed, it is worth pointing out that even the equally demanding Mourinho never faulted Salah for his work-rate or attitude at Chelsea, and was happy when he moved to Roma in July 2015.

"He's a good boy and a good player," he said in July 2015. "He just needs more top-level football."

He got that in Italy and it has made all the difference. Roma did not want to sell Salah but have been forced into doing so in order to adhere to UEFA's Financial Fair Player regulations. As a result, they will drive a hard bargain.

However, from Liverpool's perspective, Salah should prove both worth the money - and the wait.