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Chelsea Outbid Liverpool for Mohamed Salah

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From a Liverpool lock yesterday to an impossibility today, Liverpool's Salah chase appears over with Chelsea willing to meet FC Basel's £16M valuation.

Alex Grimm

Long rumoured to be Brendan Rodgers' primary January target, Liverpool appear set to lose Mohamed Salah to Chelsea after spending most of the month trying to argue down Swiss side FC Basel's valuation of the player. Liverpool were long reported to have set an £8M valuation on the Egyptian winger while the Swiss club were believed to see Salah as a £16M prospect.

In recent days it was believed the two clubs had settled on a £10M compromise, but with Juan Mata set for a Manchester United move and Chelsea set for a £40M payday for a player who had become surplus to requirements, the London outfit swooped for the 21-year-old Liverpool target. Key to any discussion of the player's future now is that Chelsea are willing to match Basel's initial valuation for Salah.

At the £8M Liverpool valued him at from the beginning, and even at the £10M the two clubs had reportedly decided was a fair base price before Chelsea's arrival, Salah was an intriguing prospect for Liverpool. However, at twice their initial valuation, there was little chance Rodgers would continue his pursuit, and the Liverpool Echo confirm he is indeed abandoning the chase.

Given Liverpool's relative depth in attack and a dire need for reinforcements at other positions, it's hard to fault the club for abandoning the Salah chase—and if it is followed by a few purchases in midfield and defence, it will be a decision many fans will support fully. Salah may be a good player with fair potential, but he is also far from proven and far from the finished article.

To pay £16M for a player who might not even have started ahead of Raheem Sterling or Philippe Coutinho this season would have made for a ludicrous purchase at a time when Liverpool desperately need at least one midfielder and fullback to maintain their top four push. And if Liverpool do make the top four, the return of Fabio Borini and Suso will give the club six quality attackers for three positions next season.

At £8M, Salah was the kind of signing Liverpool have prioritised under Fenway Sports Group—young, on low wages, and a little undervalued. For £10M he remained an intriguing prospect. At £16M, though, a side pushing for the top four would reasonably expect a player who could significantly boost their chances, and right now Salah isn't that player.

Salah wouldn't have been a lock to start this season, nor would he have been next year even if Liverpool made it back to Europe, and for £16M the vast majority of Liverpool fans will today be saying Chelsea are welcome to him.