It’s easy to look back at the £37M fee Liverpool paid for Mohamed Salah last summer and consider it a bargain, maybe even one of the all-time bargains in the transfer market given the player has since scored 41 goals and counting, been named Africa’s top player, and now the Premier’s League’s best as well.
In the current market, for a player who looks a legitimate candidate for the Ballon d’Or and Europe’s current top goalscorer, it’s clearly a bargain. At the time, though, there were some concerns Liverpool might have overpaid at least by a little—concerns that were shared by Liverpool owner John Henry.
“Now you can say it’s an unbelievable bargain,” Roma owner James Pallotta told ESPN when asked about Salah’s sale to Liverpool—and offering to take Henry out to lunch after he complained one too many times to his fellow Boston-based owner about having overpaid for the Egyptian star.
“The issue at the time was Monchi came in, Salah wanted to leave, he had a year left on his contract. He wanted to go back (to England to) prove himself. We can’t tell you anybody else was calling for Salah at anywhere near that kind of price, so there’s a lot of teams that have missed out on the great play he’s had this year.”
Salah had two years to run on his Roma deal last summer rather than the one Pallotta recalls, but even then it was a case where the buying club did have all the leverage—especially once adding in that Roma needed to make a major sale to stay onside of Financial Fair Play regulations.
From that point of view, at the time, feeling like Liverpool had overpaid at least by a little wasn’t entirely unreasonable. Even if in retrospect it’s clear just how good a deal Liverpool got. Though even then, the player Liverpool got is in part down to Liverpool and how they’ve used Salah since he arrived.
“Honestly, yes,” was Pallotta’s answer when asked if he was surprised at how well Salah has done at Liverpool. “And the reason is probably because look, we utilized him differently than Liverpool have. They figured out the best way to utilize him. At the time, we had him as a winger and Dzeko in the middle scoring 36 goals.
“They figured out how to use him a little differently and he’s much more in the middle. Where I’m surprised, is how great he’s finishing. In Rome, while he had a bunch of goals, his frustration was not finishing the same way and now you get the ball near his feet and it just seems like he’s figured a way to put it in the net.
“It’s just been amazing watching him.”