Of the Premier League’s big six, Manchester City were the quickest out of the blocks in this summer’s transfer market. Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva was captured from Monaco just days after the conclusion of the domestic campaign, with Benfica goalkeeper Ederson hot on his heels. According to several reports, full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy are set to follow in the coming weeks.
Liverpool appear to be next in line to pull off a big-money deal, with Roma forward Mohamed Salah supposedly on the verge of sealing a £35m move from Roma. The Egypt international has agreed personal terms with the Reds, say Sky Italia, although the Giallorossi are supposedly holding out for the aforementioned fee after rejecting an offer of £28m last week.
Many Premier League fans will only really know Salah for his short-lived spell at Chelsea, in which he made 13 league appearances – only half a dozen of which were from the start of matches – before departing for a loan stint at Fiorentina just 12 months after his arrival at Stamford Bridge in January 2014. Such statistics may suggest he was simply not good enough, yet it is worth remembering that Jose Mourinho, the Blues’ manager back then, has something of an unwanted reputation for judging young players too soon, with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku also let go in the Portuguese’s tenure. Salah’s sale two and a half years ago, then, was perhaps not solely a reflection of his abilities as a footballer.
Even if the decision to sanction the former Basel man’s departure was the right one at the time, Salah should not be dismissed as a Premier League cast-off. For a start, he was still very young when he joined Chelsea, and it is important to remember that off-field factors can contribute – both positively and negatively – to on-field performances, not to mention the simple fact that players develop at different rates. Indeed, just because Salah was unable to make an impact in England earlier in his career, it does not necessarily mean that will be the case if he returns to the division next term.
The 24-year-old, moreover, has now proved himself at a big club in a major European league. Roma may not have won anything during Salah’s time in the Italian capital, but the forward has thrived as part of an excellent team and deserves to be considered among the best players in Serie A. Fifteen goals and 11 assists in 2016/17 is a phenomenal record for someone who started only 29 top-flight games, while a record of 14 goals and six assists the previous season was not too shabby either.
Salah’s most eye-catching attribute is his searing speed, but more impressive is his ability to slam on the breaks and keep his cool at the decisive moment. Liverpool did not look like the same team when Sadio Mane was absent last season, and the Egyptian would undoubtedly help to share the burden and provide another pacey, direct threat in the final third. If the move does go through, it will be interesting to see how Klopp chooses to rejig his forward line; Salah and Mane, after all, are both used to playing on the right. It is not a done deal just yet, though, with Roma insisting that no agreement has been reached.
“In any case, there is nothing in it at the moment,” club owner James Pallotta told American radio station Sirius XM on Monday. “We continue to receive offers for any of our players and if we were to listen to all of them, we would lose three quarters of the squad. Now we will see what to do.”
In spite of those comments, there is a feeling that Klopp will get his man if Liverpool meet the Italians’ asking price. Further additions are required this summer, including in midfield and at centre-half, but signing Salah would represent an excellent start to the transfer window for Liverpool.