Ex-Chelsea man Mohamed Salah could be the perfect signing for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp


Roma have often been guilty of shrinking when it matters most, their failure to deliver in big moments almost certainly costing them a chance of ending what is now a nine-year wait for silverware. 

Their 2008 Coppa Italia win and 2001 Scudetto triumph seem like a lifetime ago, but the capital club appear to be making the right moves to finally return to being genuine contenders thanks to the work of owner James Pallotta.

The Boston native has pushed for the Giallorossi to build their own purpose-built stadium, and off the field he has ensured surrounded himself with people who have great knowledge of the role they are expected to fulfil. Umberto Gandini arrived from AC Milan to bring a polished air to their management team, while former Sevilla sporting director Monchi will be called upon to build a squad that can compete for honours as quickly as possible.

On Sunday evening, the current group of players offered a glimpse as to just how good they could be, demolishing champions-elect Juventus 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. The Bianconeri needed just a single point to claim a sixth-consecutive league title, but goals from Daniele De Rossi, Stephan El Shaarawy and Radja Nainggolan ensured that the Torinese prosecco would have to remain on ice for at least another week.

While he didn’t get his name on the scoresheet, Mohamed Salah tormented Max Allegri’s men throughout the game, turning in the kind of performance that made him such a hot commodity just a few short years ago. The Egyptian flyer laid on Roma’s third goal with a superb ball for Nainggolan, but before that it had been his running both with and without the ball that had caused Juve such problems.

The 24-year-old completed two take-ons and 19 of his 23 pass attempts, often giving the ball to an open team-mate after drawing the attention of one or two would-be markers. Previously deployed on the right flank, Coach Luciano Spalletti has given him a more central role this term, his pace and skill allowing him to run at the heart of opposing defences to devastating effect.

He has used that freedom behind Edin Dzeko to run riot, weighing in with 17 goals, a tally bettered only by the former Manchester City striker and Salah’s tally of 12 assists is a team-high mark. He also leads all Roma players this term with 72 chances created, while providing a constant outlet for Spalletti’s up-tempo counter-attacking style.


It is also interesting to note that he has recorded career-best tallies for both tackles (0.9) and interceptions (0.4), making links to Liverpool over the last week somewhat interesting. Given Jürgen Klopp’s love of pressing and reducing the space available to opponents, Salah’s increased defensive effort certainly makes those reports much more plausible.

The Egypt international has already proven he is not worried about moving on when it best suits him. Few could blame him for leaving Basel for Chelsea or joining Fiorentina when he became an outcast at Stamford Bridge, but he left fans in the Tuscan city feeling extremely bitter when he forced a move to Roma in the summer of 2015.

La Viola had allowed him the time and space to flourish, then-Coach Vincenzo Montella making him the player around which his team was built. Scoring goals against Juventus and receiving the adulation of the passionate Curva Fiesole crowd, his goal that secured victory over Roma in the Europa League saw him mobbed at the train station following the game.


 

So much love for the amazing Viola Fans ❤️❤️😄😂😂

A post shared by Mohamed Salah (@mosalah22) on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:25pm PDT

Those cheers were silenced when, despite Fiorentina actually paying Chelsea to make his loan move permanent, Salah refused the move and instead engineered his switch to Roma. It was a distasteful incident, but one he quickly shrugged off to become an equally important player for the Giallorossi over the past two seasons.

He has clearly improved, no longer the same one-dimensional player he was during his first spell in England, and the performance against Juventus at the weekend proved he has the stomach for the big occasion. 

"It was one of the key moments of my life and my career in terms of learning,” he says of his brief spell under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. “I was young, just 21, and suddenly I was alongside one of the best tacticians in the world, with exceptional players. I didn't play much, it's true, and I was not necessarily happy. I wanted to show what I was capable of. I was sad not to be able to do that.”

He may now get a second chance, but even if he remains at Roma, Mohamed Salah has already shown the value of those experiences.