Mohamed Salah is probably one of the best players in the world right now.
He’s certainly up there in that little sub-category of great players just below Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, especially after breaking numerous goal-scoring records during the 2017/18 campaign and helping Liverpool lift the Champions League last season, and come within the brink of the Premier League title this term.
But his hero status with the Reds is all the more amazing when you think about his first little spell in the Premier League with Chelsea.
It’s easy to forget about his 12 months and 19 appearances for the Blues between 2014 and 2015, and we’ve been wondering what in the name of Messi actually happened?
Chelsea snapped him up for just £11million from Basel in January 2014, as Jose Mourinho worked on making his second-stint with the Blues a success.
But before his move to Stamford Bridge, Salah had actually played against Chelsea for the Swiss side in the group stage of that season’s Champions League and even scored in both games – including a surprise winner at Stamford Bridge.
When he arrived, Chelsea were already well-stocked with attacking midfielders and forwards, with Oscar, Willian, Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard among their ranks.
But Mourinho needed rotation options in his squad, having sold off Juan Mata and Kevin de Bruyne to Man United and Wolfsburg respectively earlier in the January window.
Salah was young and had plenty of potential, but he didn’t really stand a chance in this side, did he?
Life on the bench
He first taste of action for Chelsea came from the bench, as he sat and watched their win over Man City in early February.
But he made his debut five days later in a 3-0 win over Newcastle – coming on as a substitute with 13 minutes left to play.
And his first goal for the Blues came just a month or so later, in that rather memorable 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal – which was Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the Gunners, no less – coming off the bench to slot home Chelsea’s sixth.
Having played for Basel in the Champions League already, he was cup-tied for the remainder of the Blues’ European campaign.
So with Mourinho famously preferring to play his full-strength line-up in a crunch last 16 clash against Paris Saint-Germain, Salah got to make his first start for the side in early April against Stoke and was named man of the match for scoring and assisting in a 3-0 win.
Starts against Swansea, Sunderland and Cardiff followed, and was even in the starting line-up for Chelsea against Liverpool in that infamous 2-0 win.
You know, the one where Steven Gerrard let it slip.
Here he is celebrating Demba Ba’s goal with his teammates… really makes you think, doesn’t it?
Chelsea were dominant in the following season, with Mourinho signing Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa in the summer of 2014 to help them storm to the title.
But for Salah, it meant less opportunities to play and more time on the bench.
In fact, he barely even made the squad for the majority of the campaign and was instead used in cup matches against lower-league opposition.
He started in the League Cup wins over Bolton and Shrewsbury, but played just 33 minutes of Premier League football in three appearances in the 2014/2015 campaign.
His final appearance for the Blues came in their 4-2 defeat to Bradford in the FA Cup in late January.
Salah didn’t stick around for too long after the defeat against Bradford, leaving Chelsea for Fiorentina as part of their deal for Juan Cuadrado.
Mourinho forked out £23m for the Colombian and let Salah go in the other direction on loan, and he more-or-less replaced Salah’s place on the bench.
Of course, Salah flourished in Florence and moved to Roma at the end of that season.
And the rest, as they say, is history.