Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Mohamed Salah – blue in more ways than one

The footballer has yet to become a regular in Chelsea, unable to break into the team led by the highly demanding Jose Mourinho. Mohamed Abdel-Razek travelled to England to see what the future holds for Egypt’s superstar

Al-Ahram Weekly

Showing sensational performances all around while playing on the Swiss side Basel from seasons 2012-2014 was enough for the young Egyptian Mohamed Salah to get attention. Salah kept on showing potential to the extent that he might become a great future player if spotted by one of the mighty clubs in Europe. That required some extra effort from the lad, which happened on 11 April 2013 when he thrashed an English net by scoring against Tottenham Hotspurs -- on the way showing some skills to Gareth Bale on personal terms -- and leading his team to the semi-finals of the Europa  League to meet the Blues of Chelsea.

On 2 May of that year, at Stanford Bridge, the home of Chelsea, Salah managed to anger the self-dubbed  “Special One” Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s manager, by scoring a late goal against one of the giants of the British game. Though Basel lost 5-2 on aggregate, the performance was enough for Mourinho who grabbed his personal self phone to call Salah. “I want you on my squad”, the famed Portuguese announced to Salah. The deal went through as Chelsea splashed 11 million quid for the Egyptian international who joined Chelsea in early 2014.

By that time, Mourinho claimed that the future of Chelsea would depend on its young players like Oscar, Willian, Hazard and Salah. But on the pitch, media words tend to change as Salah kept on rotating from being rarely a starter to sitting on the bench for ages, or even totally out of the score sheet, which was often the case. Scoring two goals in the Premier League this season, one against Arsenal and the other against Stoke, wasn’t enough to charm Mourinho nor Chelsea’s demanding fans. The notorious British media kept asking the Chelsea manager the reasons for forgetting about Salah. The answer was always the same: “he needs more time on the pitch to get the Premier League experience”. But how will he get the experience without playing? Salah had appeared in only 13 fixtures, scoring two goals since his arrival to the Blues, while playing a minimal amount of minutes each game.

Salah is currently in the dilemma of either staying at Chelsea, believing his manager might hopefully rely on him in the near future, or find the nearest way out to avoid being another Jose Mourinho victim, if one recalls Inter Milan’s Quarisma.

Al-Ahram Weekly jumped into the scene, travelling all the way to Chelsea’s home country to find the real reasons why Salah is being snubbed inside the Blues. Salah was unavailable but a Chelsea staff member, Neal, gave some informative answers.

What’s your opinion about Salah as a player? “He is a good player with great potential, but he still needs more time to develop,” said Neal.

What makes him a bench favourite most of the time? “Salah plays in the same position as Eden Hazard, the team’s best player along Costa, so Salah needs to be better than Hazard to get the chance to replace him, and that is so difficult at the moment,” Neal added.  

How can he get better without getting the chance to prove himself on the pitch? “Mourinho can’t bench an on-form player and throw Salah in, risking the team’s winning streak towards the League title and the Champions Cup,” Neal stated.

Chelsea are top of the English Premiership this season with 49 points from 21 games, two more than Manchester City and 10 clear of third place Southampton. It’s understandable that with every point on the line, Chelsea cannot, like Neal pointed out, risk a major slip-up.

So, it seems that Salah for now will stay with Chelsea, just as he started looking for a way out during this January’s transfer window. Inter Milan, QPR and Real Sociedad – he eyed all of them, but Inter didn’t have time to waste negotiating with the Blues so instead grabbed Lucas Podolski and Xherdan Shaqiri from the shelf. QPR’s Harry Redknapp, the club’s manager, lost interest in bringing in loaned players like Salah, claiming he needs players who have something to add. And Real Sociedad till now have not made any moves, just media speculation.

According to the current situation, Mourinho offered Salah another chance to “secure his Chelsea career” till the end of the season. So Salah looks as if he has no other option other than to try to stick it till the end of the season and try to prove the Blues wrong.

Who knows, he might score the winning goal that wins for Chelsea the Premier League title -- and puts Salah on Mourinho’s good side once again.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

add comment

  • follow us on