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Mohamed Salah Is the Player Who Should Be Culled in Chelsea's Squad Reduction

ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 30:  Mohamed Salah of Chelsea and Zakaria Labyad of Vitesse battle for the ball during the pre season friendly match between Vitesse Arnhem and Chelsea at the Gelredome Stadium on July 30, 2014 in Arnhem, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2014

Jose Mourinho has been at pains to explain his transfer dealings this summer are done.

After signing Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis and Didier Drogba, no more players will be arriving at Stamford Bridge in this transfer window. Or so he says.

The only movement there will be involves players departing.

Mourinho will want to reduce the Chelsea wage bill by making his squad leaner, but as he considers who will stay and who will go, he is going to have the decision made for him.

It's not about money or football but quotas.

Chelsea have one overseas player too many right now, so Mourinho must make a decision on who will leave based on conforming with Premier League regulations.

It was a subject he touched upon in midweek after watching the Blues defeat Real Sociedad 2-0 in their final pre-season game ahead of the new campaign.

“We have one problem to resolve, which is one extra foreign player at this moment," he said in the post-match press conference. 

"Victor [Moses] is not a foreign player. I know Victor is from a position where we have many solutions, [Eden] Hazard, Willian, [Mohamed] Salah and [Andre] Schurrle. But he is English and in this moment we have one foreign player who has to leave.

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA - JULY 27: Team manager of Chelsea Jose Mourinho reacts during the Pre Season Friendly  match between FC Olimpija Ljubljana and Chelsea at Stozice stadium in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Get
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

"Until the end of the month we have to make that decision. Victor is in the process. Whether he stays, or leaves, we will see."

Since then, of course, Moses has been linked with a loan move to Stoke City, per The Telegraph, which may well reduce the bills at Stamford Bridge but doesn't solve that problem of quotas.

Finding a homegrown player to make up the numbers will be simple enough should Moses leave—Chelsea have plenty of young talent coming through the academy to choose from, after all.

Which overseas star that player replaces is a more complex question to consider altogether.

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA - JULY 27: Nathan Ake (R) of Chelsea is challenged by Josip Golubar (L) of FC Olimpija Ljubljana during the Pre Season Friendly  match between FC Olimpija Ljubljana and Chelsea at Stozice stadium in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Sunday, July
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

In the end, it will come down to a method of deduction.

Mourinho cannot lose a defender as he has the ideal number already in his squad with eight, including the youthful Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen. Any reduction would weaken them.

In midfield, it's a similar situation, as it is with the three strikers.

Attacking midfield, though, is an area where Chelsea are well stocked and can afford to lose a player.

From Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle, Oscar, Willian and Mohamed Salah, it's probably the latter whom Mourinho can offload without too much impact on the team's dynamic.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his 2nd goal with  Andre Schurrle during the pre-season friendly match between Chelsea and Real Sociedad at Stamford Bridge on August 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Gett
Steve Bardens/Getty Images

That's not to suggest Salah doesn't offer anything to this Chelsea team: He does, but when compared to those he is competing with, the Egyptian suddenly looks dispensable.

Whereas Hazard, Schurrle and Co. have the look of being complete players, Salah is one who would benefit most from either a loan move or permanent transfer away from the club.

He isn't the finished article yet and needs games to help him realise the potential he has.

Having to make changes to the squad, it's those weaknesses in Salah's game that Mourinho must consider.

Atletico Madrid may well be trying to test Chelsea's resolve over the situation by maintaining their reported interest in Schurrle, per The Independent, but Mourinho should swiftly tell them they are wasting their time.

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA - JULY 27: Branislav Ivanovic (R) and Mohamed Salah (L) of Chelsea in action during the Pre Season Friendly  match between FC Olimpija Ljubljana and Chelsea at Stozice stadium in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (Photo by
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

It's Salah who is most at risk here.

In 12 months' time, more experienced and having benefited from regular football, he should be a better player—a player who has hopefully ironed out the problems in his game such as his poor form in front of goal and a habit of retaining possession for too long in dangerous areas.

Chelsea are chasing the Premier League title this season. They're serious contenders, favourites for most people.

Losing Salah won't impact that.

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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