Salah, 21, makes the switch from Swiss club Basel FC to the reigning Europa League champions in a five-year deal reported to be worth 11 million British pounds (18 million US dollars), which could make him the most expensive Egyptian player to date.
Following the move, completed on Sunday, the Egyptian told Chelsea FC’s official website he was “very happy to sign for Chelsea, such a big club in the world . . . I hope I can make the Chelsea supporters happy and have a good career at the club for many years to come.”
Salah started his career at Arab Contractors SC, based in Cairo’s Nasr City, before moving to Basel FC in the summer of 2012, where he scored a total of 20 goals in 79 appearances, including three goals in four impressive performances against Chelsea in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stages.
On Friday, Chelsea manager José Mourinho spoke of his admiration for the player. “I like the fact that he can play the same way our attacking players do, which is players with adaptability, to play right, left or behind the striker,” he said in comments carried by Agence France-Presse.
He added: “He’s young, he’s fast, he’s creative, he’s enthusiastic. When we analyzed him it looked like he had a humble personality on the pitch, ready to work for the team and to adapt himself to a new life.”
Salah’s signing comes on the heels of Chelsea’s sale of Spanish midfielder Juan Mata—who was out of favor with Mourinho—to fellow Premier League giants Manchester United for 37.1 million pounds (61.22 million dollars), a record signing for the Manchester side.
Another Premier League side, Liverpool, had initially been the frontrunners to sign Salah during the winter transfer window, but were eventually beaten to it by Chelsea. Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said missing out on signing the Egyptian was “difficult to take,” according to English daily newspaper The Guardian late on Monday.
Salah’s successful spell at Basel earned him an award as the best player in the Swiss league for the preceding 2012–2013 season, as well as a fans’ favorite award, which he received last month.
His switch to West London means he now joins Ahmed Al-Muhammadi as the second Egyptian playing in England’s top-flight competition.
Other Egyptian soccer players who have featured in the Premier League include Mido—who has been Egypt’s most expensive player since his 13 million US dollar switch from Ajax to Marseille in 2003—former Zamalek favorite Amr Zaky, and Hossam Ghaly, who currently plays for Belgian team Lierse SK.