Roma have talked openly before about why they had to sell Mohamed Salah to Liverpool last summer, but following a two goal, two assist performance against his former club on Tuesday night it’s hardly a surprise to see questions being asked again.
And, just as people are asking why Roma sold, so Roma and sporting director Monchi is having to answer, explaining again that they had no choice due to the club’s Financial Fair Play situation and that given the circumstances they got what they could.
“I sold him for more than €42m,” he explained to reporters after Tuesday’s Champions League semi-finals first stage that saw Liverpool stake out a 5-2 lead in the tie. “We had a need to sell. We had no option but to sell Salah before June 30.
“Had we not done that, we probably wouldn’t be here playing the semi-finals of the Champions League as we had UEFA closely monitoring us. When I arrived, the offer was €30m but we managed to get it up to almost €50m with bonuses.”
In the end, Liverpool paid €42M up front—around £37M—that along with Monchi’s add-ons could eventually see the fee end up at €50M, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Salah has already triggered or at least come close to triggering all of them.
Even if he does, it’s a fee that will go down as a bargain for Liverpool. But it’s a fee that was paid for a player who was pushing for the move, who had two years on his Roma deal, and with the threat of UEFA sanctions heading over their head.
They didn’t just need to make a major sale—they needed to do it right at the start of the summer transfer window, and they needed most of the fee paid up front. Add in that the biggest deals would come later, and it’s hard to fault Monchi.
He got what he could for a player who wanted a move, with no other serious suitors for Salah or another Roma player that would have covered their FFP needs. Then Neymar’s release got triggered and Salah turned into one of the game’s top three attackers.
“That is what we could do,” Monchi added of what soon turned out to be a terrible deal for Roma and a steal for Liverpool. “The market then went crazy with Neymar, Coutinho, and Dembele.”