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Mention a former Chelsea winger signing for Liverpool and there would have been understandable trepidation on Merseyside in the past.
Even setting aside the fierce rivalry between the two clubs, memories of Joe Cole trying his utmost but never quite making the grade are quickly followed by bitter flashbacks to Fernando Torres suffering the same fate in a blue shirt.
The moral of both stories is the same, regardless of which direction either player went in.
More recently, another winger in Victor Moses failed to fulfil his potential at Anfield, quickly fading during a loan spell under Brendan Rodgers. A pattern seems to have developed over the years.
Surely, then, (to paraphrase Einstein) following the same recipe and expecting a different result would be nothing short of madness?
Not quite. For, in the case of Mohamed Salah, there are eye-catching differences – both in terms of the player himself and supporter reaction to his Liverpool switch.
Reds fans have generally reveled in the news Salah has swapped Roma for Jurgen Klopp’s promising young side. And the fact the Egyptian is a former Chelsea man has made little difference.
Yes, the 25-year-old struggled to establish himself at Stamford Bridge only a couple of years ago. But this seems to be the age of the ex-Chelsea star, with Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schurrle and more all coming to the fore since departing west London.
The stats alone explain why Salah’s £34.3 million arrival, as reported by the Liverpool Echo, has generated so much excitement at Anfield. Last season, the winger netted a stunning 19 goals for Roma, 15 of which came in Serie A.
Salah supplemented that tally with no less than 11 league assists (12 in all competitions).
No Liverpool player scored more league goals during the same campaign – nor did a single Reds star notch as many assists in the league.
Got the attributes Liverpool need
It’s not just Salah’s eye in front of goal that has got fans talking, however. Indeed, the 25-year-old offers two key attributes that the Reds are truly in need of: pace and width.
“Mohamed has the perfect mix of experience and potential – this is a really exciting signing for us,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com when the signing was announced.
“He knows the Premier League, he has pedigree in the Champions League and he is one of the most important players for his country.
His record in Italy has been outstanding and he possesses qualities that will enhance our team and squad. I have followed him since he emerged at Basel and he has matured into a really good player.”
Enough has been said about how lethargic Liverpool have looked without Sadio Mane and another player of the same mould should add real firepower to Klopp’s already intimidating arsenal. With another such outlet, the team can stretch opponents even on their very worst days.
Therein perhaps lies the only major footnote of the deal: the fact the Egyptian tends to play wide right – just like Mane – while both could also be absent during any future African Cup of Nations tournaments. Alas, the two may end up fighting for the same position without being able to help Liverpool through their January blues.
Overall, though, the positives far outweigh any disadvantages of paying £34.3m for a man in red-hot form. That fee, too, could prove a small yet vital detail.
Can Salah live up to the pricetag?
With a pricetag of £36m, Mane is Liverpool’s club-record signing – and he has taken to that label like a duck to water. Yet, costing £2m less, Salah won’t have the burden of that extra little phrase (it has boosted Mane but what kind of impact did it have on Andy Carroll?).
Another plus is the fact he would cost less than Gelson Martins, rumoured to be worth the £40m mark when reports surfaced of a stall in talks between Roma and the Reds.
Can Salah buckle under the pressure at Anfield? Sure. Could the wide man end up another frustrating signing like Stewart Downing, Albert Riera or Ryan Babel? Certainly.
But, with Klopp’s guidance, Salah offers genuine promise.
Despite finally finishing in the top four this summer, Liverpool have all too often looked short of ideas against defensively efficient opposition. In Salah, the Reds have identified a player that can give them another way out.
A long-term target on Merseyside, the Roma forward’s arrival has created a sense of closure for both parties. Liverpool finally have their man – and Salah finally a fair crack at the whip in the Premier League.
There’s every chance he’ll capitalise.
Written by Timothy Poole
Follow Timothy on Twitter @TimPooleSport
Check out Timothy’s fantastic blog, Rate Your PL Manager
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