When Liverpool signed Mohamed Salah for £34 million in the summer of 2017, some football fans in England raised their eyebrows because he’d flopped at Chelsea.
The Egyptian scored 34 goals in 83 games for AS Roma but had previously flattered to deceive at Stamford Bridge.
Salah moved to England from Basel in January 2014 but only scored two goals in 19 mostly forgettable appearances for Chelsea before being loaned to Fiorentina.
However, Salah has established his status as one of the world’s best forwards since joining the Reds.
In 186 appearances, the 28-year-old has netted a magnificent 118 goals. He’s won two Premier League Golden Boot awards and, of course, has helped his team win both the league title and the Champions League.
Whose fault was it that Salah flopped at Chelsea?
Jose Mourinho was the man in charge of the Blues at the time and some have pointed the finger at the Portuguese coach for Salah’s failure to shine in west London.
In an interview with beIN Sports in 2019, Mourinho insisted: “He arrived at Chelsea, coming from Basel, as a lonely boy, a naive boy, completely out of context and physically fragile.
“Then he goes to Italy. He has the experience at Fiorentina, he has the experience at Roma and when he comes back to England he comes completely adapted to the high level of European football.
“He has a higher understanding of the game, he is physically much stronger. You can see his body and his fitness is much stronger and much more confident.”
Like Salah, Luis struggled to produce his top form under Mourinho at Chelsea.
The Brazilian, who returned to Atletico Madrid after just one season with the Blues, admits Salah made him suffer during Chelsea training sessions.
“It might look like we fell out but I admire [Mourinho],” Luis said. “I won the league with him. But he didn’t get the best out of me, just as he didn’t with Salah.”
On the Egypt international, Luis added: “I suffered Salah in training, pfff.
“When he went Fiorentina, I said: ‘Why are you going, Momo? This is Chelsea.’ And he said: ‘I need to play.’
“I thought: ‘This kid’s good.’ He never went for money or to win more; he went to show he could play.
“In training he was like Messi. Really, like Messi. Ask anyone.”
That Salah was apparently like Messi in training makes it all the more baffling why Mourinho didn’t give the wide-forward more of an opportunity at Stamford Bridge.
It was clear to Luis that Salah was a major talent, capable of achieving great things, but we can only assume that Mourinho felt differently at the time.