Mohamed Salah is a something of a mystery and equally divisive to many Chelsea fans.
Everything about Salah’s season this year has been fractured, and yet he’s still ended it with Premier League and League Cup winner’s medals thanks to some smart organisation by Jose.
With just 30 minutes of Premier League football under his belt, some will feel he shouldn’t be entitled to claim the title of being the first Egyptian to hold a medal.
But with many writing him off already, I still believe there’s a strong case for him to become a fan’s favourite at the Bridge.
His total of 107 minutes for Chelsea this season don’t make for great reading.
Champions League Pass Completion: 72.7%
Premier League Pass Completion: 78.3%
Champions League Dribbles (per game): 2
Premier League Dribbles (per game): 0.3
Total Goals: 0
Total Assists: 0
In my opinion it would be unfair to judge a player who hasn’t completed 90 minutes nor had a consistent run of games. Indeed, 107 minutes worth of data will always be skewed one way or the other. In that case, lets take a look at his mere 5 months at Fiorentina.
Fiorentina A Good Fit
To provide some context, Fiorentina are set to finish in 5th in Serie A above both Milan and Inter. Prior to January, they hadn’t reached 5th position in the league all season dropping as low as 14th and generally hovering between 9th – 11th for the most part.
They also reached the Europa League semi-final in what will look on paper as a pretty successful season. What it actually is, is a stunning second half of the season. Barring a 4 game losing streak, Fiorentina have managed to rescue their season with a large amount of credit going to their brand new loanee. Mohamed Salah.
Let’s break down his stats since he joined Fiorentina:
Serie A Pass Completion: 86%
Europa League Pass Completion: 87.1%
Serie A Dribbles (per game): 2.8
Europa League Dribbles (per game): 3.8
Total Goals: 7
Total Assists: 2
He played a total of 1,573 minutes for Fiorentina – surely a large enough sample to argue that this is the real Salah. A Salah given a run of games and an amount of confidence.
Utility Man Salah
Let’s revisit the idea of Salah’s adaptability and put aside any ideas that he may have trouble moving country so many times at a young age.
Let’s instead look at how he’s employed on the pitch and analyse how he’s ‘adapted’. Salah has been used in 5 different positions this season. Five.
Most players struggle to find a good bit of form if they’re switched between two positions in a season, never mind five.
He’s played as a striker, a wide striker on either side in a front three, a central attacking midfielder and a genuine winger. I’m confused just thinking about it.
His best stats by the way come when he’s employed on the left of a front three. (I’m looking forward to Jose letting him play there next season… I don’t think so somehow).
And he’s been a utility man in more ways than one. Such has been the nature of Salah’s season he’s played in all of these competitions:
UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
He’s played internationally for Egypt too.
I’d hazard a guess that not many other players have played in so many tournaments. The fact that he’s found momentum and been something of a success at Fiorentina is possibly a minor miracle.
For a 22 year-old, moving from Egypt to Switzerland to England and then loaned to Italy all at a young age can’t be easy. I perfectly understand these are the demands of modern day football at the highest level and something most players have to adapt to, but what I don’t understand is the demand from supporters for instant gratification.
His highlights, his glimpses of the extraordinary and his match data all indicate a very adaptable and very capable footballer.
All that’s left now is for him to adapt to the Premier League.