In what has already been a pretty eventful week for Chelsea fans, what better time than now to look back on a period when they let a future Ballon d’Or contender slip by?
On January 26, 2014, a fresh-faced Egyptian named Mohamed Salah arrived at Stamford Bridge. The youngster had been linked with a whole host of Premier League clubs before joining the Blues, although he chose to partner with Jose Mourinho; a move that ultimately turned out to be an absolute nightmare.
In two and a half years according to Chelsea’s books, Salah would collect just 13 league appearances and two goals, being on loan twice to Serie A before eventually securing a permanent transfer to Roma.
So what exactly is wrong? How did a man who is universally recognized as one of the best managers on the planet allow a player who would continue to break Premier League records to leave the club after having had so few opportunities?
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time he made a similar mistake – which MM. Lukaku and De Bruyne will attest to this – but did Mourinho actually make a mistake?
Football managers are so closely watched, with every substitution analyzed, that we are all very quick to jump on them the second they seem to have slipped. Yet hindsight is a wonderful thing, and more often than not these “mistakes” are not as clear as they seem.
Take the example of Tony Pulis’ treatment of Serge Gnabry. The former West Brom boss has been taunted for his treatment of a winger who only had 12 minutes of Premier League football during his time at The Hawthorns, but who is now both a German and European champion as well. than a world-class winger.
But just because he’s brilliant now doesn’t mean he was brilliant then. He’s older, wiser, and stronger now and obviously a much more complete player, so why presume he was brilliant five years ago?
The same is true of Salah. At 21, he was clearly a far cry from the physical specimen who now sits proudly on top of the football world. There is a ruthless streak in his game that was not apparent even during his time in Italy, and he is clearly developed both as a player and as a person, much like everyone does from the start. in their late twenties.
“” He was just a lost child in London. He was a child lost in a new world. He was a lonely boy, a naive boy, completely out of context and physically fragile. Back in England, he fully adapted to the high level of European football. He understood the game better, he was physically stronger and he was more confident, much more confident. “”
– Jose mourinho
Of course, there is an argument to be made that this is Mourinho’s job to young people of blood and giving them a chance in the first team, but unfortunately there is a time and place for this to be done. , and having secured Premier League glory in Salah’s second season at the club, Chelsea were clearly not at a stage where they thought a 21-year-old thug might have a chance to develop and make his mistakes in the first team.
Not only was Salah a far cry from the player he is today, but the competition for places was also a big factor in his lack of development at Chelsea.
The Egyptian has joined a squad brimming with international talent, including the recent arrival of £ 30million Willian, Brazilian playmaker Oscar, German international Oscar and a guy called Eden Hazard, while
The arrival of Juan Cuadrado in the January 2015 transfer window was the last dagger of Salah’s career at Stamford Bridge.
Interestingly, Salah’s arrival midway through 2013/14 may also be a factor in his lack of progress at Chelsea, of which the aforementioned Cuadrado is a perfect example.
Many clubs avoid making big moves in January, in part because it’s hard for a player to adjust to a new style of play and a new environment halfway through a season. Any player enrolled in the summer transfer window usually has a few months to settle in, meet their teammates, and go to bed in a new environment.
Much like Salah, Cuadrado didn’t have that luxury and his career at Stamford Bridge was also unsuccessful – he didn’t do too bad for himself after leaving West London. This is funny …
The truth is you can hit Mourinho with the ‘recoil stick’ whatever you want, the point is the Portuguese tactician barely ignored the Salah as we see the Premier League’s defenses torn apart today.
The Liverpool man has developed and matured a lot since his first Premier League stint, and Chelsea shouldn’t be laughed at for ‘failing’ with Salah. On the contrary, his time at the club will have helped him to become the player we see today.
Not that it will make you Chelsea fans feel better about the situation…