Conte and Jose join forces to de­fend Chelsea’s Salah sale

Chelsea were right to sell Salah to Roma in 2016, claims Conte

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

Arch ri­val man­agers Jose Mour­inho and An­to­nio Conte put up a united front yes­ter­day in de­fend­ing Chelsea’s treat­ment of Mo­hamed Salah, who has been a reve­la­tion since leav­ing Stam­ford Bridge two years ago.

The past and present Chelsea man­agers both ad­dressed the sub­ject of this sea­son’s PFA player of the year, with Mour­inho reit­er­at­ing that the de­ci­sion to al­low Salah to leave on loan to Fiorentina in 2015 was not his alone.

Conte main­tained that it is im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict how play­ers will go on to per­form.

Salah has scored 43 goals in all club com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son for Liver­pool, with his lat­est two strikes con­tribut­ing to their thrilling 5-2 de­struc­tion of Roma in their Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nal first leg on Tues­day.

“This is not so sim­ple be­cause I think that we have to com­pare Salah from over four or five years ago, not with this Salah,” said Conte.

“The Salah in the present he im­proved a lot and de­vel­oped a lot. He de­vel­oped his football and the ex­pe­ri­ence in Italy was very im­por­tant for him.

“Now I am sure he is a dif­fer­ent player com­pared to the past and for that rea­son it is dif­fi­cult to have this com­par­i­son with this player.”

Manch­ester United man­ager Mour­inho said he was re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing the Egyp­tian to Chelsea in 2014 and de­fended his han­dling of the player when he ar­rived.

“Ev­ery­body knows I bought Salah. I was at Chelsea, he was at Basel and I am re­spon­si­ble for the play­ers I bring. I watch and I told the club to buy that fan­tas­tic young player,” he said.

Mour­inho has been ac­cused of not giv­ing Salah a chance at a club where he made just a hand­ful of ap­pear­ances in an un­pro­duc­tive 12 months dur­ing which the winger said he “didn’t talk much” to his man­ager.

Yes­ter­day Mour­inho took re­spon­si­bil­ity for Salah’s lack of game time at Stam­ford Bridge but said he was pro­vided with a path­way to de­velop.

“He was not play­ing a lot and that is my re­spon­si­bil­ity as a coach and we de­cided with him it was bet­ter to have a loan pe­riod to play to grow up to be­come stronger,” said Mour­inho.

“In­ter­nally again with the board and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, we thought Ital­ian football could be good for him to de­velop. He went to Fiorentina [on loan in Fe­buary 2015]. After that I left and I am not re­spon­si­ble for the process.”

Salah re­turned to Chelsea from Fiorentina be­fore join­ing Roma on loan in Au­gust 2015. Salah then signed for them per­ma­nently in Au­gust 2016 – nine months after Mour­inho left Stam­ford Bridge. He was sold to Liver­pool for ¤42 mil­lion last June.

“Credit to Mo, Jür­gen [Klopp], the team and I am very, very, very happy for him. He is a fan­tas­tic boy and he knows I have a great care for him,” said Mour­inho.

Liver­pool’s Mo­hamed Salah has flour­ished since leav­ing Chelsea

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