Liverpool are one step closer to ending this month's transfer window without any business concluded, after Chelsea stole in late to capture the signature of long-term target Mohamed Salah.
According to the Blues' official club website, Chelsea have agreed terms with Basel for the transfer, and all that remains is for the more personal details to be settled on the player's behalf:
Chelsea Football Club can confirm an agreement has been reached with FC Basel for the transfer of their 21-year-old attacking midfielder Mohamed Salah.
The move is subject to the Egyptian international agreeing personal terms and completing a medical examination.
It's a setback for Brendan Rodgers' side, to say the least. For months now, Liverpool have been linked with a move for the Egyptian trickster, only to fall at the final hurdle thanks to the comparatively late interest sparked from Jose Mourinho.
What's perhaps most frustrating for the Reds is that Salah would have been essential to the cause at Anfield; there's a great chance he could have started for the rest of the campaign.
Granted, the promise of trophies and silverware is greater at Stamford Bridge, but it's likely that Salah will find himself occupying the same spot on the bench that the outbound Juan Mata has done for the majority of the campaign.
Sky Sports says Mata is due in Manchester for his medical on Friday, ahead of a £37 million switch to Old Trafford:
Competing with the likes of Willian, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle and Oscar, Salah is bound to encounter the same issues as the man he's replacing.
Suffice it to say that the task of superseding Raheem Sterling, Victor Moses or Jordan Henderson over in Merseyside would have bore more fruit in terms of playing prospects.
Liverpool can be disappointed with how the situation was handled.
Here, they had a player whom they had devoted a great deal of resources to, with The Mirror's Liam Prenderville reporting as early as October that Liverpool were interested.
It's those kinds of figures that appear to have told the story in the end, with the West London outfit finding it that much easier to part with the funds than Rodgers' side. After all, they're still making a considerable profit when taking Mata's impending sale into account.
Copa90 agrees that bad business etiquette would appear to have played Liverpool's undoing on this occasion:
During John W. Henry's most recent years as owner of the club, Liverpool have tried and largely succeeded in escaping the same transfer strategies that saw them paying eye-watering fees for the likes of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing.
However, this would have been one deal where it was acceptable to jump in feet first, taking the plunge before reaping the rewards at a later date.
The neutral will hope that a player of Salah's promise can fulfil his potential regardless of where he goes, but over at Anfield, they'll be kicking themselves that it's not them overseeing his development.
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