Player profile: Who is Chelsea's new £12m man, Mohamed Salah?
All the information you need to know on the Blues' new Egyptian midfielder
Thursday 23 January 2014
It's common nowadays for players, especially those involved in big money transfers, to have a nickname which compares them with an utterly incomparable fellow professional.
In keeping with this footballing tradition, Mohammed Salah, the man Chelsea have just signed from under Liverpool's noses, is dubbed 'the Egyptian Messi'.
Brendan Rodgers has been a big fan of the 21-year-old's abilities for some time now and will have been forgiven for believing that his move to Anfield was somewhat of a foregone conclusion.
Jose Mourinho, however, is a man not to be underestimated in the transfer market - as shown by his previous record of out-manoeuvring former Tottenham manager Andre-Villas Boas into securing the £30m acquisition of Willian last summer.
Salah started his career with Egyptian side El Mokawloon in 2010, making forty-one appearances, and quickly established himself in the club's first team.
Scoring his first professional goal on Christmas Day of that year, during the 1-1 away draw with Al Ahly, he played every game for the 'Mountain Wolves' during the 2010/11 campaign.
Swiss Super League side FC Basel had been monitoring Salah during that most impressive of debut seasons and, after meeting club representatives after a fund-raising friendly in honour of the Port Said Stadium disaster, signed a contact just a month later.
Now a member of the Egypt under-23 side, with whom he scored four goals in eleven starts, he was then handed his debut in a Uefa Champions League preliminary round clash against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Molde.
Scoring his first goal for the club a fortnight later, it was his performances against Spurs in the Europa League which truly enabled him to make his mark on the continental scene.
In aiding Basel to victory over the Londoners, in penalties after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate, Salah and Co. had reached the semi-finals of the tournament.
They met Chelsea who, under Rafa Benitez, eventually lifted the trophy but a fine strike from the Egyptian youngster gave them hope of an upset.
Despite disappointment in Europe, FCB romped to victory in the domestic league while reaching the final of the Swiss Cup.
2013 continued to be a milestone year for Salah, now a full international for the Pharaohs, as he converted his first Champions League strike against Macabi Tel Aviv in August.
Drawn in Chelsea's group, though, they faced a daunting away tie at Stamford Bridge in Jose Mourinho's first European game back in England.
Salah stole the limelight, however, after scoring the equaliser as the Swiss champions defeated the Blues 2-1 in one of the shocks of the season to date.
It alerted Liverpool to his qualities and Rodgers is believed to have sent scouts to monitor his situation throughout the season.
It is now clear that Mourinho had forged an interest of his own and, with Juan Mata set to join Premier League rivals Manchester United for £37m later this evening, appears to have finally got his man.
And Chelsea's other January targets...
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