Eden Hazard has identified former teammate Mohamed Salah as the man to watch ahead of Saturday's clash at Anfield and has accused the Chelsea management of not doing enough to keep him at the club two years ago.
Salah has hit the ground running since joining Liverpool from Roma this summer, bagging 15 goals in 21 matches in all competitions for the Reds. The speedster made just 19 appearances for Chelsea in his short stint at the club, from 2014 to 2015, before being shipped out on loan to Fiorentina. And according to Hazard, Jose Mourinho missed the mark by not giving Salah more time on the pitch.
“He is still my friend and we are still in contact.” Hazard said. “He’s a top, top, top player. He didn’t get his chance at Chelsea – maybe because of the manager, because of other players? I don’t know.
“He has quality but in that period I remember we had me, Willian, Oscar, so for him it wasn’t easy. But he’s a top player, for sure, and we know as a team the quality he has.
“He is a fantastic striker and this season he has scored a lot of goals. In training he would do everything. Even in the games he was playing, sometimes he would score goals, so we knew the quality he had.
“I am just happy for him.”
Salah spent three fruitful years in Italy, first with Fiorentina and then with Roma, before moving back to England this summer. At Roma he scored 34 goals in 83 appearances in all competitions.
Hazard added: “When you are not playing at a club you need to go. You need a chance and he took his chance at Fiorentina, so he did everything that you have to do when you are not playing.
“If I was not playing, I’d want to go. That’s normal because of all the players want to play.
“I watched him when he played for Roma – one of my friends from the national team, Radja Nainggolan, is also there – and did very well.
“Now he is still at the top. And then even with his country he did well to reach the World Cup. At Liverpool he is still doing well, so I think we needed to be careful with him. I want to ask him for his shirt, for sure, on Saturday.”
The Blues travel to Anfield on Saturday to face Liverpool in bid to reduce the gap to the Manchester teams at the top of the Premier League table. The Blues sit third, nine points behind leaders Manchester City.