Jose Mourinho’s decision to let Mohamed Salah leave Chelsea, and the Special One’s reasoning, could come back to bite both the manager and club next season.
The Egyptian departed Stamford Bridge for Roma on a permanent basis last summer, following loan spells with both the Giallorossi and, prior to that, Fiorentina.
Salah has not stayed away for long though, having just signed for Liverpool in a mega-money £39 million deal.
It follows a blistering spell in Serie A with the two aforementioned clubs, where Salah scored 34 goals in 83 games over two-and-a-half seasons in Italy.
Watching on from England, Mourinho must surely have wondered what could have been and even potentially had a pang of regret at failing to fully utilise the African star – particularly after the way things imploded at Chelsea.
And yet, the Special One had the opportunity to change all of that.
Back in the summer of 2015, Salah was back at Stamford Bridge after spending half a season on loan at Fiorentina.
The forward had impressed for the Florence side, scoring nine goals in 26 outings for a struggling Viola outfit. Salah had been supposed to stay with Fiorentina for another season-long loan but had a change of heart late on in negotiations with Chelsea’s lawyers brought in to negotiate a settlement.
All of a sudden, Mourinho had the opportunity to reassess his view on Salah in the wake of a standout half-season in Italy that reminded everyone just why the Egyptian had been in such high demand during his time with Basel.
Mourinho being Mourinho, took another approach though and it’s one he must surely look back on with regret.
He doesn’t belong to my squad and he’s not staying here,” he told the press at the time.
“The important thing is that he plays like he did at Fiorentina, so [I’m] happy with him going on a loan. Italian football is difficult football to play, especially for attacking players. So if it’s not Fiorentina it’s Roma or Inter or Juve – I don’t know. Maybe he has a loan.
“He’s a good boy and a good player. He needs more top-level football so I’m happy with any decision him and the club make.”
Dismissive, patronising and a touch ignorant, the comments may not have been intended to come off that way, but they could easily come back to haunt the Special One when Salah lines up against Manchester United later this season.
Chelsea fans, meanwhile, must look back and wonder what could have been, had Mourinho not made a point of offloading Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Salah – three players sold by the club and now impressing for some of the club’s biggest rivals.
Salah may not “belong” to any Mourinho or Chelsea squad, but he’s more than worthy of a place among the Premier League’s biggest and brightest.
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