Despite widespread reports that Liverpool had walked away from negotiations with FC Basel when Chelsea moved for Mohamed Salah, Brendan Rodgers has today suggested the deal isn't quite dead in the water from a Liverpool point of view. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho admitted that the transfer isn't quite sorted out on the Chelsea end, either, though he fully expects the player to end up at Stamford Bridge in the end.
"I’m not sure whether that deal is definitely done yet or not," said Rodgers when asked if he had given up all hope of landing the Egyptian winger. "The young guy is a good player. We have tracked him for a number of months—the club has been watching him and I have been to watch him. It is one where the agent of the player and the clubs were talking but if the deal can’t be done, the deal can’t be done. I know the club has been working very hard to get players in. I’ll leave that to them and see how they get on."
Despite having opened negotiations with Basel before the transfer window opened, Liverpool were unable to settle on a fee for the player until recently. Before that offer could be formalised, Chelsea stepped in to offer Basel something closer to their initial asking price. Early suggestions they were willing to pay the full fee Basel was seeking up front appear misguided, and a base £11M with easily attainable escalators that would take the deal into the £16M range unless Salah were a complete flop is believed to be the framework for Chelsea's accepted offer.
"I say maybe he’s right," admitted Mourinho when asked to respond to Rodgers' suggestion that Liverpool could still be in the running for Salah. "I don’t know what Liverpool did before us but I am confident. We have an agreement with Basel and that agreement only goes forward when there is an agreement with the player. Now it is terms and a medical he has to pass. But I know he wants to come. I asked him and he told me. Hopefully he comes, but probably the situation is open—or not closed."
Having agreed a fee and formalised a deal with Basel in hours after Liverpool couldn't in months, Chelsea remain overwhelming favourites to land Salah even if his transfer isn't quite done yet and Rodgers is still holding on to a sliver of hope. If Liverpool somehow manage to turn the tables and nab him, though, most Liverpool fans will only have one question: can he play as a defensive midfielder or fullback?