Chelsea fans are starting to wonder why Mohamed Salah was ever allowed to leave the club after he continued his stunning form for Fiorentina with both goals in a 2-1 win over Juventus on Wednesday.
The winger, arguably Europe's in-form player at the moment, was gifted to the Viola as a makeweight to allow Juan Cuadrado to go the other way. With the Colombian, as of yet, failing to make an impact for the Blues it has been a brilliant deal for Vincenzo Montella.
The loan deal allowed Chelsea to negotiate £3.5 million off of Cuadrado's £26.8m release clause and few Chelsea fans expected to miss him. Since arriving from FC Basel in January 2014, the 22-year-old has managed just 19 appearances for the club despite staying relatively injury free.
Keeping him away from rivals
He cost them £11m, but with the likes of Andre Schurrle already at the club, it seemed like a waste of money. If anything, it was a move designed to keep this talented youngster away from a direct title rival in Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers was very interested in signing the player, but despite the offer of more first-team involvement, Salah chose Stamford Bridge. Now the Blues look set to offload him to a foreign club for a profit where he is unlikely to bother them again. Genius.
A genius transfer policy
Chelsea's transfer policy has been criticised and praised in equal measure since Jose Mourinho returned for his second spell in charge. They have a system of signing Europe's brightest talents before allowing them to develop away from the club on loan before selling them for profit.
Thorgan Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand are just some of the players to leave Chelsea this way, generating over £40m in transfer fees. This policy is not confined to youngsters though; Schurrle and David Luiz both generated significant profit despite failing to impress at Stamford Bridge.
Salah is set to join this group of disbanded Blues. Fiorentina have the option to buy him for £16m and there is no reason to suggest they won't take it up. That would be £5m profit from what they paid just over 12 months ago. Add that up with the money saved on Cuadrado's transfer fees and the fact Fiorentina are probably paying at least a portion of Salah's wages, and you have a significant sum left over.
A shady business
It is a shady business, buying players purely to generate profit, but it is a culture set to expand throughout European football. It is the culture financial fair play breeds. It takes football clubs one step closer to a business model where humans are the products, produced for profit and profit alone.
Porto were the first to master this art. They have run their club on transfer fees over the last decade and now Chelsea are following suit. The Blues have loaned out an incredible 30 players this year, many of whom will never play for the club, but be sold for significantly more than they were purchased.
They rely on the fact that just being a Chelsea player increases his market value. Despite Salah playing very little football over the last 12 months, his value shot up from £11 million to £16 million. The only feasible reason is that he moved from a small Swiss club to one of English football's major powers.
The reputation of a Chelsea player immediately goes before them, allowing the club to haul the best players from lower level European clubs and watch their stock instantly rise before selling them on. It's ruthless, but in the world of financial fair play, it's necessary.
Should Salah be brought back to Chelsea or should they take the money and run? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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