The list of Chelsea rejects who have gone on to star at the highest levels elsewhere is laughably long. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, both of whom are arguably in Europe’s form XI at the moment, currently sit atop a list that includes the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Daniel Sturridge.
It’s hard to believe now, but at one time, Salah, the newly-crowned BBC African Player of the Year and current world beater, could barely get a kick in a few short seasons ago at Stamford Bridge. Coming into club from Basel in the 2014 winter window for £11m, the Egyptian made a total of 19 appearances under Jose Mourinho over the course of two seasons, before a loan to Fiorentina the following year and a sale to Roma saw him ignominiously ushered out the door.
The London spell was a rough one for for the clearly talented, but under-performing winger’s confidence. Still at the club at the time, Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba, recently revealed the frustration his teammate would often express to him concerning his struggles:
"There was time when he was texting me: ‘I don't score, I don't know why’” Drogba revealed, speaking with BBC Sport.”
“I said: ‘It is just a matter of time and confidence. When you have the confidence, everything can happen and you can see now that he is scoring goals.”
The maturation process in the Italian league proved to be the catalyst required for the speedy wide man to fulfill his potential, as a return of 38 goals and 21 assists over the course of two and half seasons set the stage for a triumphant return to England.
"I saw how he improved through the years,” Drogba continued. “He had to go to Italy to perform and then come back to England show that he is the player we always believed he was.
"What he has done with the national team as well being able to qualify the country in a very difficult game I think he deserves it."
"He's becoming a boss and a leader we've seen it in the national team and seen it at Liverpool,” Drogba added.
The former Ivorian international and all-time leading scorer for the national team also tipped Salah for success in the upcoming World Cup after leading Egypt the finals for the first time since 1990:
"He can bring a lot of his leadership and his experience, that he is learning at Liverpool and with the national team [to the team in Russia]," Drogba added.
"You know for him playing in a lot of big competitions will help him to be among the best players in Europe and during the World Cup
"Mo Salah on his own cannot win the World Cup but if all his teammates are at the level the continent expects them to be, then Mo Salah can be a fantastic player and be one of the stars in this competition."