Former Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah has gone from strength to strength since departing from Stamford Bridge just a year after signing for the Londoners.
Salah joined Fiorentina on loan after just 13 Premier League appearances for Chelsea and, after a decent debut season in Serie A, joined Italian giants Roma on loan in 2015, making the move permanent before the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign.
Name: Mohamed Salah
Current Club: AS Roma
Height: 5ft 9”
Salah made his professional debut in the Egyptian Premier League in 2010 when he was substituted on for El Mokawloon in their 1-1 draw against El Mansoura but it wasn’t until the following season that he made an impact.
Throughout the 2010/11 season, “the Egyptian Messi” cemented his place in El Mokwaloon’s first team, scoring his first goal for the club against El Ahly. He remained a regular for the club right up until he signed for Swiss club Basel for the 2012/13 season.
It was at Basel that Salah began to get noticed on the European stage; leading to a big move to Chelsea in 2014 – the club he scored the equaliser against when Basel beat the London club 2-1 in the group stages of the 2013/14 Champions League campaign.
Salah’s time at Chelsea was mostly dull; he often found himself on the bench and would usually be used as a substitute late on and, by the January transfer window in 2015, it was pretty clear the Egyptian’s future wasn’t in London.
Moving to Italy picked up Salah’s career. He was relatively excellent in his season with Fiorentina, becoming a very important feature in La Viola’s side. However, Salah slapped the face of everybody at Fiorentina when the club activated a clause which meant his move would become permanent but the winger rejected the transfer in favour of moving to Serie A rivals Roma.
The move to the capital of Italy was a risky move for Salah but it paid off; he went on to improve on his prior season and earned himself a permanent transfer the following season and is now an important feature in Roma’s team.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
Salah plays as a winger, for the most part, at Roma but there has been several times that the Egyptian has been used as a utility striker – which is quite comparable to how Roberto Firmino is used at Liverpool.
When Eden Hazard started to have his name on Chelsea’s team sheet it in permanent marker, it was pretty clear that the Belgian was several levels ahead of Salah but I’d go as far as to say the ability gap between the two has been dramatically reduced in the last two-three seasons.
When people think about the best wingers in Serie A, their mind probably wanders toward Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Insigne and they’d be right to go there.
However, Salah more than deserves to be right in the mixer as in just 28 Serie A appearances, the Egyptian has scored 13 goals whereas Insigne has scored two more but has played a total of 34 games this season for Napoli in the Italian top flight.
It’s also Salah’s creativity that allows him to rub shoulders with the finest wingers in Europe – he has ten assists in his appearance whereas Insigne has only seven in his 34 games.
It’s when we put Salah up against Stephan El Shaarawy for a comparison that we see he’s a different class; the Italian has played just one more league game than Salah this season but has only managed five goals and four assist – abysmal, by comparison, when you consider they share the flanks most of the time.
A little side note – I’d love to see the “two Pharaohs” on Liverpool’s wings, especially with how shallow we look when Sadio Mane is unavailable but I don’t think El Sha would be too pleased with the amount of opportunities (or lack thereof) that he’d get.
Where would he fit in?
It’s pretty straightforward to determine where Salah would fit in and that’s on the wings, he’d rotate with Mane to keep them both fresh and, when it’s required, he could fill in for Phil Coutinho to offer some extra pace going forward and the Egyptian could even stand in for the striker and play in the ‘false nine’ role.
The question is more ‘how often will he play?’ and that’s hard to answer. It’s clear to see that Klopp could use an extra winger in his team and Liverpool’s reported interest in Alex Ox and Brant seem to confirm that but, as it’s been suggested Klopp may go after two or more new wingers, it’d be difficult to confirm if Salah would feature as often as other star players.
One thing’s for sure though; adding Mo Salah to any squad immediately improve their attacking options and Liverpool would seriously benefit from that next season when (hopefully, expectedly) competing in Europe.
The Egyptian has been linked with a move to Champions League finalists and soon-to-be Serie A champions Juventus but, if Liverpool were to actually compete with the Bianconeri, the Reds would need to qualify for the 2017/18 Champions League campaign and even then, I’d think Klopp may prefer to go for PSG’s Lucas Moura.
It would come down to which of the two shows more interest in joining Liverpool – we saw an example of this with Mario Gotze last summer.
It’s not guaranteed that Mo Salah will even leave Roma in the upcoming transfer window but, as we’ve seen before, he’s more than capable of changing his mind and moving elsewhere. There is a decent chance that Salah may go on to be the next Arda Turan; forever to be linked but never to actually join.
Written by Steven Carson.