Has Chelsea midfield loan exile proven Mourinho wrong already?

Chelsea players inc Salah

Mohamed Salah has scored more goals for Fiorentina than he ever did with Chelsea, and could yet convince the Special One of his Premier League worth.

Sent to Fiorentina as part of the deal that brought Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea fans may not have seen the last of Mohamed Salah on the basis of his current performances for La Viola.

Jose Mourinho is a measured manager, so it’s therefore perhaps telling that, while Andre Schurrle was allowed to leave the club for Wolfsburg on a permanent basis, the deal that saw Salah exit remained only a temporary one.

Recruited to the Fiorentina cause on loan until the end of the season, Viola manager Vincenzo Montella is a savvy operator when it comes to ironing out loan deals – perhaps because he was so effective during them as a player.

Fulham fans no doubt recall the Italian’s brief stay at Craven Cottage, with the then-Roma striker scoring five goals in 14 outings for the West London club.

As with Salah and Fiorentina, the Cottagers knew they had little hope of keeping the forward, once dubbed “the Little Aeroplane” during his playing days, and it’s a similar situation in Florence.

Fiorentina know the score too, having made a habit of utilising loan deals to get quality players in temporarily on the cheap – one-time Italy internationals Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Diamanti have already been brought in on loan from Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande – and this one looks no different.

Speaking after their Europa League victory over Tottenham, Montella hinted at Salah heading back to Chelsea come the summer.

"[Jose] Mourinho has a lot of choices, sometimes some players do not integrate with a team for many reasons. He was a redemption but I think they trust him much more," he said in quotes carried by Metro.

"Given how much [Chelsea] are asking for him, I think they have high hopes in him."

But regardless of whether Fiorentina opt to take up the £16 million option they have to sign the player, Salah may have already gone some way to silencing any of Mourinho’s doubts.

In just six competitive appearances for the Tuscans, the 22-year-old has already scored four times and looks to be returning to the form that saw him score 10 in his last 29 at Basel.

To put his Fiorentina goal return into more perspective, the winger managed just two goals in 18 stop-start appearances for the Blues in just over a season at the club.

His goals-to-minutes ratio offers another telling statistic, with Salah scoring every 59.33 minutes for Fiorentina in Serie A compared with every 265.5 minutes for Chelsea.

And it’s not just the amount of goals scored by the Egyptian that has improved but also the standards of the sides he has found the net against.

Over his year-long stay at Chelsea, the winger scored against a poor Stoke side at the Bridge and netted the sixth in the Blues' 6-0 hammering of Arsenal.

In Serie A, Salah has netted decisive goals against two fellow Europa League combatants in Torino and Inter Milan, while Tottenham were put to the sword on the continent, with Salah scoring in La Viola’s 2-0 win over the Lilywhites.

That goal may have been the most crucial, not only helping to lay some of his Chelsea ghosts to rest but also in rekindling his form against a side where it all began.

Brought on with the Blues already 4-2 down against Spurs back in January, Salah’s lack of impact may have played a decisive role in Jose Mourinho’s decision to farm him out.

And the chance to face Tottenham again and, more importantly, a side whom he previously made his name against in the Europa League was the perfect chance at redemption.

"I played against Spurs twice in the Europa League when I was at Basel and I scored an important goal that helped us qualify,” he explained to the London Evening Standard ahead of the first leg of the tie.

"They were very good games for me. That was an important moment for me and for Basle. I also put in five assists in that competition and am fired up for this chance."

With Salah fired up and aiming for Champions League qualification and perhaps even European glory, Chelsea may want to try and keep hold of this one.

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