Quick, direct, dynamic, and creative: with these words Mourinho summed up Mohamed Salah when he signed him in 2014.
Unfortunately, Salah never lived up to the hype in the two years he spent at Chelsea. It’s a shame because Salah has been showing his mojo at Roma and has been one of Serie A’s most prolific players. So far this season Salah has grabbed his first career hat-trick and has nine goals in twelve matches for Roma. And that’s not all: Salah’s 14 goals last season topped Roma’s goal-scoring charts.
He came on Mourinho’s radar when he bagged three goals against Chelsea with Basel. The British newspapers were quick to laud him one of the most promising prospects of the year. But his two goals in 19 appearances hint of a few rotten tomatoes during his two-year stint in London.
So what went wrong for the pacey winger?
Here are three reasons he flopped at Stamford Bridge:
When you have four established attacking midfielders in front of you of the rank of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle, it’s hardly any surprise Salah failed. Emerging players such as Bertrand Traore and Victor Moses made Mourinho’s decision even easier.
The pressure to perform in the little game time he received hardly made things easier too.
Salah needed to show real class if he would replace one of them on the pitch. Unfortunately, he didn’t.
Money and Rivals
Salah was bought from Basel for £11 million. Chelsea received around £2 million in loan fees from Roma and Fiorentina and another £16 million for his permanent transfer to Italy. The simple math is a profit of £7 million for a fringe player–pretty good.
The funds were reinvested into Juan Cuadrado’s move to Stanford Bridge.
On top of that, Salah had been a long-term target of Liverpool’s before he joined Chelsea. So, in a way, Mourinho killed two birds with one stone: preventing a rival from improving their squad and making a profit.
Salah's style of play
Salah's style of play didn't rhyme with the Premier League. He is a left-footed and fast right winger who likes to exploit space and cut inside with the ball at his feet.
In the little time he received on the pitch in England, he struggled to find that space. His defensive side is also not very developed, and that causes asks plenty of questions for midfielders in Premier League top sides.
He didn’t get a chance
He showed glimpses of his ability in the second half of 2014 when he played more regularly. He found the net on a couple occasions against Arsenal and Stoke City.
From 2015 onwards Salah hardly got a sniff of first-team action, and struggled to convince the manager he deserved it.
Ask his fans and they would argue that he didn't get a fair chance at Chelsea. They would be partly right.
It is fair to say Salah’s departure from Chelsea was a blessing in disguise, however. With Roma, he has opened a very shiny chapter of his career, while Chelsea will hardly spill a tear at his absence. It’s a win/win.