Chelsea won the battle to land Mohamed Salah this winter, but Liverpool appear to think they might yet have the last laugh after suggesting the Egyptian wasn’t worth the fee paid by Jose Mourinho’s club.
Was Salah worth up to £16 million?
Salah sealed his Chelsea switch on Sunday, completing a deal worth £11 million according to BBC Sport.
However, it is suggested by Matt Law of the Telegraph that the final figure—with adds-ons included—will reach £16 million for the 21-year-old.
That figure represents a sizable shift from the £8 million offered by Liverpool, per the Mirror’s David Maddock. The Reds' managing director, Ian Ayre, says the Merseysiders know which figure represented true value for Salah’s signature, per Dominic King of the Daily Mail: "We know what the value of the player is and how far we were prepared to go. That is something myself, Brendan Rodgers and the others involved in the process discuss openly. We won’t over-pay. In every transfer window you win some and lose some."
Liverpool’s failure to land a player—and Salah in particular—during the January window raises an interesting debate over how the club is run.
On one hand, the gap between the £8 million Liverpool were seemingly willing to pay and the £11 million spent by Chelsea could prove the difference between the Reds qualifying or missing out on Champions League football next season.
In that context, an extra £3 million would have been a pittance to spend in comparison to the jackpot that comes with dining at Europe’s top table.
However, on the other hand, if Liverpool valued Salah at £8 million and the overall fee rises to as much as £16 million, it would be somewhat careless of the club to double their valuation in order to land the former Basel man.
Such an attitude previously landed them Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing for extortionate fees that arguably set the club back a decade in its progression.
Undoubtedly, Rodgers wanted Salah, and the club’s moneymen failed to deliver him. The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe sums up that particular disappointment in the context of old coach Rafael Benitez:
Currently at Anfield wondering if Brendan Rodgers will say: 'I wanted a lamp & they brought me an airline sponsorship & a donut.'— Chris Bascombe (@_ChrisBascombe) January 27, 2014
However, if a degree of penny-pinching now allows Rodgers to land the right target at the right price in the summer, it will be worth it for a club that still has to manage its finances carefully.
Salah arguably didn’t even fill Liverpool’s most pressing need, which is surely in central midfield rather than their attack, so the Reds’ prudence may ultimately be a blessing for Rodgers.