Chelsea FC winger Mohamed Salah spent an extremely successful half-season on loan at Fiorentina this year, but following his refusal to join the Viola for the coming season, the Egyptian finds himself – along with his parent club – in a decidedly sticky situation
What was initially expected to be a straightforward transfer for Chelsea FC to wrap up this summer has now developed into a veritable soap opera – complete with remarkable plot twists, alleged betrayal, villainous characters and open threats from the jilted lovers that are Florence-based club ACF Fiorentina.
The legal quagmire that Mohamed Salah finds himself in, of course, has repercussions on parent club Chelsea FC and their ability to complete the sale of the player to a club of their choosing. With the Viola now reportedly threatening to involve world football’s governing body FIFA as an arbiter, it is perhaps worth breaking down how the situation got to where it has.
Mohamed Salah refuses to continue his Fiorentina career
After a half-season to forget with Chelsea FC, the Egyptian joined the Viola on loan in January this year till the end of the season, with a reported option to extend that loan by a further year to a total of 18 months – at a certain cost to Fiorentina.
After impressing in Italy with 9 goals and 4 assists to his name in all competitions – including a remarkable solo goal against Juventus – it was widely expected that he would continue with the Tuscan club in 2015-16, whether by extending his loan or by completing a permanent transfer from Chelsea.
At some point during his time in Italy, however, Salah was allegedly seduced by Inter Milan – a club on the rise again – and made the decision to leave Fiorentina. The 23-year-old intimated as much to the Viola, who did not take kindly to the snub.
The Chelsea FC winger maintains that he had the power to veto the loan extension, with his agent providing an angry retort to Fiorentina’s threats of legal action against his client, accusing the Florence club of making “pathetic attempts to renege on their agreements, and their written contractual obligations.”
Any chance of a return to Fiorentina having thus gone out of the window, Salah now finds himself back in London, reportedly training with the Chelsea FC youth team until his situation can be sorted out. Jos Mourinho does not see him as part of his plans for next season, and with the trouble this transfer is causing the Blues, they will likely be trying to get rid of the Egyptian as soon as reasonably possible.
Furious Fiorentina demand justice
The Viola – clearly intent on hanging on to Salah – reportedly did pay a a 1 million fee to Chelsea FC to extend the winger’s loan for the 2015-2016 season. However, they also claim that the 23-year-old – to whom they made an “insane offer” according to club director Vincenzo Guerini – missed the deadline to veto the extension, and is therefore contractually obliged to follow their instructions as a Fiorentina player.
Salah’s refusal to respond to the club’s offer, as well as his decision to ignore their request to report to pre-season training, presumably prompted the official statement on the club website, where Fiorentina claimed that they would place the matter “in the hands of [their] lawyers so that they may assess all possible courses of action in order to protect the cluba s rights.”
The Serie A club have since seemingly come to terms with the reality that Salah will not be a Fiorentina player next season, but are still of the view that the Egypt international is in breach of his contract.
The Viola’s pre-season training began on Monday the 13th, and as expected, Salah was not present. That has reportedly brought the situation to a head, with the club demanding compensation from Chelsea FC with the looming threat of FIFA arbitration hanging over the Premier League champions’ heads.
Fiorentina are demanding a player on loan from Mourinho’s side in lieu of the a 1 million payment made to the Stamford Bridge outfit, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a name that has been linked with the Serie A side. The Blues will be reluctant to send him out on loan however, and have since reportedly offered Spaniard Oriol Romeu instead.
If an agreement over a player is not reached, the Viola are said to be demanding monetary compensation – up to a 3 million – for effectively making Salah a more attractive prospect in the transfer market and relaunching his career in that sense.
Fiorentina are also upset with fellow Serie A club Inter Milan, whom they accuse of poaching a player under contract. Vice-president Paolo Panerai took to his personal Twitter account to launch an astonishing tirade against the Milan club, calling for UEFA intervention and punishment for the Nerazzurri.
The Viola’s second demand is reportedly that Chelsea FC do not sell Salah to Inter, and preferably, to any other club in the Serie A; Roma are rumoured to be taking a keen interest in the 23-year-old. That could present a serious problem to Mourinho’s side, who would want to auction the player and sell to the highest bidder regardless of the country in which they are based.
Failure to meet these demands could potentially result in Salah being banned for 6-7 months if found guilty of reneging on his contractual obligations. However, proving that would require time and money on the part of both clubs as well as the player, and a FIFA arbitration is thus not a desirable solution for any party.
Inter play the innocent by-standers
Inter Milan have almost certainly been fluttering their eyelashes in the general direction of Mohamed Salah in these past few weeks, and it is safe to say they have got his attention. The club have made some ambitious signings this summer window with the likes of AS Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and Atl tico Madrid centre-back Miranda joining the Nerazzurri, and manager Roberto Mancini is looking to further strengthen his attack.
Inter did not take kindly to Panerai’s Twitter comments, and responded with an angry statement of their own on their club’s website, accusing Fiorentina of a ‘cover up’ and of involving them in a conflict that was solely between Fiorentina and Salah.
a F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) July 5, 2015
If they really were involved in ‘tapping up’ or contacting the player whilst he was contracted to Fiorentina however, it is unlikely that a FIFA committee would see it the same way. As a result, the Nerazzurri are now doing their best to distance themselves from the situation until a resolution is reached.
Club director Piero Ausilo was recently quoted by the club’s official channel (via Football Italia) as saying: “For Salah wea re waiting at the window to see what the situation really is. Therea s been so much talk, but wea re not interested in chatter. We want to figure out who could be the best player to take to Inter.”
There were reports in the Italian press earlier in the week that a fee of around a 20 million had been agreed between Inter and Chelsea FC, but any potential deals for Salah will first have to clear a sizeable violet hurdle.
Chelsea FC are set to fly to their pre-season training base in Montreal tomorrow, and Mohamed Salah will almost certainly not be part of the travelling party. What remains now is for the Egyptian’s parent club to satisfactorily meet the Viola’s demands and avoid any potential legal action and consequent FIFA arbitration.
Once that impediment is removed, the soap opera will quickly reach its finale given there is no dearth of clubs that have put their hats in the ring for the 23-year-old. How fast a resolution will be reached, though, is anybody’s guess, but with a quick outcome very much in the interests of all parties involved, it is to be hoped that it would be sooner rather than later.