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BEFORE IT ALL

What actually happened during Mohamed Salah’s forgettable spell at Chelsea?

The Egyptian King has been on fire at Liverpool this season, but what actually went on during his 12 months in blue?

It’s fair to say that Mohamed Salah is probably one of the best players in the world right now. 

He’s certainly up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the moment, having scored 43 goals in 47 appearances this season, helping Liverpool to the brink of the Champions League final in the process.


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He was duly named the PFA Player of the Year last week and some even think he should be awarded the Ballon d’Or at the end of year.

He’s been that good. 

What a player he’s shaping up to be

REUTERS
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What a player he’s shaping up to be

But his excellent debut season with Liverpool 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?

Underwhelming arrival

Chelsea snapped him up for just £11 million 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 in the group stage of that season’s Champions League and even scored in both games – including a surprise winner at Stamford Bridge.

Old rivals, new friends

AFP
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Old rivals, new friends

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.

We’re not liking the shorter hair and lack of beard

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We’re not liking the shorter hair and lack of beard

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.


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Having played for Basel in the Champions League already, he was cup-tied for Chelsea for the remainder of their European campaign.

So with Mourinho preferring to play his full-strength line-up in the 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.

As good as it got

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As good as it got

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?

Well this is awkward

Bradley Ormesher - The Times
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Well this is awkward

Outcast

Chelsea were dominant in the following season, with Mourinho signing Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa in the summer 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.

Sad times

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Sad times

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.

January exit

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.

Don’t look back

AFP - Getty
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Don’t look back

Of course, Salah flourished in Florence and moved to Roma at the end of that season.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


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