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89% passing, 1 dribble: Chelsea loanee Salah praised by head coach after debut

Mohamed Salah made his Fiorentina debut in a 3-2 victory over Atalanta on Sunday.

Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Montella told Sky Sport Italia he is optimistic about the impact Mohamed Salah can have at the Stadio Franchi after the Egyptian’s Viola debut on Sunday.

The 22-year-old officially joined the Tuscan side on deadline day from Chelsea, arriving on an initial six-month loan with an option to make the deal permanent, per his new employers' official announcement.

Salah has big shoes to fill at Fiorentina as the natural replacement for Juan Cuadrado, who moved the other way to Stamford Bridge, much to the dismay of Viola fans.

A poor start to the campaign has left Montella’s men to play catch up in the race for Champions League football in the second half of the season.

Heading into the weekend the Viola were riding a wave of decent form, however, taking eight of the last 12 points on offer and advancing to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.

But the run will need to continue in the wake of Cuadrado’s departure, with little time for Salah to settle if he is to adequately fill the gap left by the Colombian’s sale.

Salah started Sunday’s encounter with Atalanta on the bench, suiting up for Fiorentina for the first time, looking on as the Viola fought back to go into the half at 1-1.

In the 65th minute the Egyptian came on to replace Joaquin, slotting into the right wing-back role in Montella’s favoured 3-5-2 set-up.

His impact was positive. With Salah on the pitch the Viola went on to secure a 3-2 victory, though the Chelsea loanee wasn’t directly involved in the build-up to either goal.

Salah saw out the afternoon with an 89% pass accuracy rate, one successful dribble and a shot from outside the penalty area which was blocked.

There was nothing exceedingly spectacular from the Egyptian’s outing, but getting his feet wet in a match in which Fiorentina grabbed a late victory should help him kick on.

Montella told Sky Sport Italia of Salah after the win: “He’s an unpredictable player, very talented and will get even better with time. There is always going to be an acclimatization period for him to settle in.”

One aspect of his game Salah will need to improve to see consistent minutes is his defending, an area where Cuadrado excelled in addition to his attacking prowess.

Salah is most accustomed to playing as a natural winger but will need to adapt to the rigors of the wing-back role, as demanded by Montella’s tactics.

The Egyptian made a positive start in this endeavor on Sunday, and the next step will be to convince Montella he is ready to make the spot his and start on a weekly basis.

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