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How Mourinho gazumped dithering Liverpool for £11m Salah

Chelsea manager shows perfect timing to snatch winger from under Reds' noses.

Has Jose Mourinho pulled off another piece of transfer magic?

Mohamed Salah, Basle’s highly-rated Egyptian winger, was widely expected to complete his move to Liverpool this week – some reports on Wednesday afternoon even suggested the deal had been completed.

Yet Salah is now on his way to Stamford Bridge, after Mourinho elbowed his way past Brendan Rodgers to convince the 21-year-old to opt for the Kings Road over Merseyside.

Clearly, Liverpool have been punished for dithering. Initially reluctant to part with Basle’s £12m asking price, Rodgers and the Anfield club haggled for the right deal.

They haggled for too long. With Juan Mata sealing his move to Manchester United, Mourinho wasted no time at all in lining up a replacement (of sorts) for the departed Spaniard.

Money is very little object at Chelsea, and once Mourinho had a word with the player it seems the deal was wrapped up quickly.

What a blow that is for Liverpool, who had identified Salah as a key signing this month, one who would add pace, poise and power up front to supplement Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Instead, they find themselves back at square one with a week to go until deadline.

It seems the personal touch worked well for Mourinho, but just how long did he have his eye on Salah? After Salah scored against the Blues in the Champions League in November, Mourinho said admiringly of the winger: “He’s a very good player, very fast too.” Was that the moment he made up his mind to make a move?

Perhaps he decided to move for Salah only if he lost an attacking player. If that is the case, Liverpool were simply unlucky with the timing of Mata’s departure.

But it undeniably proves that Chelsea are far ahead of their rivals in their ability to attract Europe’s top players.

Salah has scored 17 goals in 27 games for Egypt, although he has only found the net twice at club level this season – two of those goals coming against Chelsea.

Chelsea confirmed on their official website on Thursday: “An agreement has been reached with FC Basel for the transfer of their 21-year-old attacking midfielder Mohamed Salah.

“The move is subject to the Egyptian international agreeing personal terms and completing a medical examination.”

image: © tpower1978

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