Manchester United's impending purchase of Juan Mata promises to have a domino effect at the top of the English market, with Chelsea and Liverpool now in a tug of war for the services of Mohamed Salah.
Following the Red Devils' aggregate defeat to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday evening, Jan. 22, BBC Sport revealed the Blues had accepted a bid for their midfield misfit:
Salah has long been linked with a move to Anfield, but Mata's United switch leaves Jose Mourinho in immediate need of his own reinforcements. Brendan Rodgers is potentially set to lose out as a result, just as he did with Willian in the summer.
Eurosport claims Chelsea are now favourites to land the winger:
SALAH TO CHELSEA LATEST: Blues set to beat Liverpool to Basel man, a source has told Eurosport: http://t.co/nEOZJ9PHq7— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) January 23, 2014
The Daily Mail's Simon Jones provides details on Chelsea's sudden interest:
With Juan Mata sealing his exit to Manchester United, Chelsea have looked to replace the Spaniard with Salah who impressed against them in the Champions League this season scoring in both of their group stage games, including the winner in Switzerland.
Salah's preference is understood to be Liverpool as he believes he will get more game time but Chelsea's financial muscle could yet persuade him and his club.
It's a fine line that the Egyptian international treads leading up to what could be the biggest move of his career.
The 21-year-old has been highly impressive since moving to Basel just over 18 months ago, but it would be safe to assume that chances of first-team playing time look more fruitful at Anfield.
CNN's Tancredi Palmeri reports that the race for Salah's loyalty is heating up, with Mourinho's side alleged to have submitted a €15 million offer, per Sky Italy:
Liverpool have been outbid by Chelsea again for Salah! 15m € according to Sky Italy— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 22, 2014
As Jones mentions, Salah has carved out a name for himself after starring in the European encounters against Chelsea, but his talent runs far deeper than just those outings.
Where should Salah move this winter?
Last season, the youngster was voted the Swiss Super League's Golden Player of the Year, and he finished CAF's 2014 World Cup qualification as joint-top scorer, despite Egypt failing to make it to the finals in Brazil.
Irrespective of his age, Salah already has a wealth of club and international pedigree under his belt, but would be coming into a thriving area of Mourinho's squad, a section that Mata himself has found near-impossible to break into.
With that being the case, one of the questions that's bound to be on Salah's mind is whether he would be able to muster a better tally than Mata's 11 Premier League starts this term from a possible 22, per Transfermarkt.
However promising a talent Salah might be, one has to appreciate Mourinho is replacing a player who has failed to impact his starting XI this season, whereas Rodgers is in far greater need of the creative recruitment.
The likes of Victor Moses and Iago Aspas have made little impact on the Reds' attack this term, leaving Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling as Rodgers' only genuine wide options.
An incredibly tough decision lies ahead for the Basel flyer, whose morals will be a major factor in any deal, but it could very well come down to the much more simple matter of who's willing to part with more cash.