Pitchside Europe

Will Salah even get into Chelsea’s starting XI?

Chelsea may have beaten Liverpool to the signing of the highly-rated Mohamed Salah but where does the Egyptian fit into Jose Mourinho’s title challenging side?

Salah scored twice against the Blues in the Champions League group stages earlier this season, as Basel shocked the London club on both occasions to record famous wins.

The 21-year-old looked set to move to Merseyside during the January transfer window, but it appears his performances in Europe have done enough to persuade Chelsea to splash eight figures on the pacey forward.

Salah played on the wing in both games against Chelsea and will have to displace either the inform Eden Hazard or the Brazilian duo of Oscar and Willian if he is to force his way into the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge.

The imminent sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United at least means there is one less player for the Egypt international to contend with.

Hazard has a performance score of 113 from his four Champions League appearances so far followed by Willian on 102 and Oscar on 82. Salah has a modest score of 48 from his six appearances in the competition with his best performance coming in the 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in November where he recorded a score of 51.

Salah does have the highest attack score of the four with 112, just edging out Hazard on 107. The Egyptian completed nine of his 10 attempted take-ons in the Champions League group stages, an exceptional success rate.

His average of 1.7 attempts per game compared to Hazard (7), Willian (4.4) or Oscar (2.8), suggests that he doesn’t always look to run at players with the ball. His superior success rate of 90% also shows that he is perhaps more calculated in his take on attempts.

Salah created seven chances and scored twice during the group stages of the Champions League, in comparison Oscar created six chances, three of which were assists while Hazard fashioned four chances and Willian 10, including two assists.

Of course, the statistics from his Champions League appearances only give us a sample of the player that Chelsea are buying. Domestically, Salah has hit four goals in 19 games to help Basel to the top of the Swiss Super League.

It is highly unlikely that the Egyptian will be a regular starter at Stamford Bridge and this is still the case at Basel where he has played the full 90 minutes on just five occasions this season.

Mourinho looks to be signing Salah as a replacement for the departing Mata, but it remains to be seen whether or not the 21-year-old can do what the Spaniard couldn’t and force his way into Chelsea starting line-up.