Why did Mohamed Salah struggle at Chelsea?

Bolton Wanderers' Darren Pratley in action with Chelsea's Mohamed Salah (L)

As Salah secures his switch to Roma, it begs the question; have Chelsea let another top player leave prematurely?

Fiorentina's Mohamed Salah shoots

Fiorentina's Mohamed Salah shoots

The signing of Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah was seen as a savvy piece of business by Chelsea when they paid £11 million in January 2014. The winger scored 10 goals in 47 games for Swiss side Basel as the 24-year-old scored twice in two Champions League games against Chelsea, culminating in the underdogs winning home and away. Perhaps it was his performances in both these games that convinced Chelsea of the winger’s talent.

However, Salah struggled to find form and game time at Chelsea. The winger was afforded just three substitute appearances in the Premier League in the 2014/15 season before being shipped out on loan to Fiorentina. While in Italy, Salah scored six times and picked up three assists in the league, while he also managed a goal and assist in the Europa League.

The next season, Salah was loaned out to Roma. The Italian league seemed to agree with him as, into his second season there, he managed a superb haul of 14 goals and six assists. This is the type of form that prompted Roma to pay out for the permanent services of the Egyptian.

Picture Supplied by Action Images

                                                                  Picture Supplied by Action Images

But where did it go so wrong for Salah at Chelsea?

The London club seems to be the perfect playground for a winger, with Diego Costa in the centre a very adept header of the ball. Should this not work, the efforts of the very offensive full-backs in Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic who constantly attack, allow the winger more space as the opposition defenders are forced to track other attacking runs. His pace should have also been a huge factor in attack with the likes of Cesc Fabregas always looking to pick a run in behind with his superb range of passing.

Perhaps the main reason why his move to Chelsea did not work out was simply because of the players he was competing with. Of the four so-called big teams in England, only Chelsea have a set of wingers that are almost impossible to drop when on form.

Arsenal have Alexis Sanchez, however, his season was curtailed by injury and a poor run of form while Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were both injured for huge portions of last season. Manchester United did not have any experienced true wingers playing out wide last season with the likes Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia often utilised as full-backs. Manchester City used David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as wide players last season, but both were given licence to roam inside and, the two are at their deadliest playing behind Sergio Aguero up-front. Their true wide players come in the form of Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling, with neither anywhere near as potent as Willian or Eden Hazard.

Bolton Wanderers' Darren Pratley in action with Chelsea's Mohamed Salah (L)Bolton Wanderers' Darren Pratley in action with Chelsea's Mohamed Salah (L)

So perhaps it is the performances of Willian, who deservedly was named Chelsea’s Player of the Year, and the raw potential of Chelsea’s star man Eden Hazard that has forced Salah out of the club. It seems to be a very similar story with Juan Cuadrado, who spent last season on loan at Juventus.

It seems that a few promising wingers have gone to Chelsea before being sold on before they can really establish themselves. However, this has been a common theme at Chelsea with the likes Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Andre Schurrle and Salah all leaving Chelsea and finding success elsewhere. Perhaps if Chelsea had been patient with the likes of Salah and co then things could have worked out.

But it didn’t work at Chelsea and his transfer to Roma ends a very sorry chapter in his career. Perhaps being at a club that are willing to give him a fair run of games will ignite the tricky winger's career.Picture Supplied by Action Images                                                                Picture Supplied by Action Images

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