Mohamed Salah was officially presented to the Italian press on Friday, telling Gazzetta dello Sport that he hopes to be able to fill the gap left by Juan Cuadrado's departure.
The Egyptian arrived at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on loan on deadline day as a makeweight in Chelsea’s initial deal for the Colombian.
Chelsea paid some £11 million to sign Salah from Basel a year ago but opportunities were always limited for the winger, who has said he isn’t expecting to return to Stamford Bridge. Fiorentina hold an option to make his stay permanent.
While there will be less competition for minutes in Tuscany, Salah nonetheless has big shoes to fill as Cuadrado was the undisputed star of Vincenzo Montella’s Viola side.
In two-and-a-half years with Fiorentina he bagged 26 goals and 21 assists, providing a dynamic edge with his pace and skill while playing in a variety of different roles.
Cuadrado duly endeared himself to the notoriously vociferous Viola support, something Salah says he will endeavor to do himself.
The 22-year-old told a press conference: “Cuadrado? He’s a great player. I respect him a great deal and I hope to garner the same love from the Fiorentina faithful.”
Salah has made only 18 competitive appearances over the past 12 months, with eight of those coming this season for Chelsea.
He’ll not only have to adapt to a new role, city and league at Fiorentina, but will need to recover the sharpness that comes with playing consistent minutes.
Beyond this, Fiorentina’s new signing expressed excitement at learning a new brand of football in Italy, citing stars past and present who influenced him.
“For me Serie A is at a high level. I am happy for this new experience. Here the likes of Batistuta, Baggio, Totti and Del Piero have all played, players who marked my football life.”