Mohamed Salah could have been preparing for his first Liverpool match on Jan. 28, a Merseyside derby debut for the ages, but slack transfer negotiations eventually provided Chelsea with the chance to snatch the former Basel talent away from the Reds' grasp.
Jose Mourinho took advantage, and with Salah's move to the Blues confirmed, the player's agent has revealed why Liverpool didn't get their man.
As reported by David Woods of the Daily Star, Sascha Empacher—the player's representative—believes Liverpool had more than ample time to confirm a deal:
It was a long and fair negotiation with Liverpool, but it lasted two-and-a-half months—too long.
Both clubs could not agree on terms. When Chelsea contacted Basel, he was happy and took his chance. It was no financial matter.
Ian Ayre, Liverpool's managing director, had previously claimed Salah didn't want to join the Anfield club, per Mike Whalley of ESPN FC.
Brendan Rodgers hasn't confirmed this suggestion, but he did say Liverpool "did everything they felt they possibly could" in order to land the Egyptian, reported by Andy Hunter of The Guardian.
Rodgers also confirmed the failure to sign Salah is "out of my control," suggesting he didn't wield much power during talks.
To hammer home how disappointing this failure is, Salah recently scooped the best player prize at the Swiss Super League awards:
Liverpool's inability to confirm the 21-year-old's transfer certainly left the door open for rival clubs, a fatal mistake when you consider Newcastle and Zenit St. Petersburg were also thought to be in for the player, per Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror.
Chelsea previously snatched Willian from under the noses of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur during the summer, as reported by James Dickenson of the Express, signalling the Blues' intent on capturing players they feel are vital to future success.
Will Liverpool rue not signing Mohamed Salah?
Salah scored in three of four appearances against Chelsea across the Champions League and Europa League, suggesting he has the capability to become a key player at Stamford Bridge.
While Liverpool fans are forced to consider what could have been, Rodgers has warned supporters there is "certainly nothing imminent" with regards to January signings, per Husmukh Kerai of Goal.com.
This is sure to disappoint many—especially considering Lucas Leiva is ruled out for up to a month, per an alternate Prenderville report—and may dampen the club's challenge for a place in next season's Champions League.