‘I did not realise Salah’s quality’ – Mikel

‘I did not realise Salah’s quality’ – Mikel
John Obi Mikel (c) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Nigeria training session at the Aero Sports Complex, Cairo, Egypt on 13 July 2019 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Jun 10, 2020. 13:00

Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel has admitted that he did not realise the quality of Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah when the two were teammates at Chelsea.

Mikel, who is currently a free agent after being released by Turkish Trabzonspor in March, played alongside Salah when the forward first arrived in England in 2014, having been signed by the Blues from FC Basel.

The Egyptian struggled to establish himself in the Premier League and went on to play in Italy – first on loan and then permanently for Roma – from 2015 to 2017 before making a big-money move back to England when he signed for Liverpool.

Salah has had no such trouble ever since, becoming one of the best attackers in world football and helping Liverpool to claim the 2019 UEFA Champions League title, while a first Premier League title in 30 years is also within touching distance provided the season can be completed.

Mikel admits that he did not expect Salah to develop into the player that terrorises defence across England and Europe today.

“When Salah came to Chelsea, he was a young boy, but he had a nice personality and everyone loved him, he was very disciplined,” he told ON Sports, as quoted by KingFut.

“We were close friends, talking a lot and joking a lot, he was a good friend. I believed in his development, but frankly I did not imagine that he would reach the quality that he has now.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian adds that playing in Egyptian football is a prospect he would consider: “I never ruled anything out.”

On his aspirations, he added: “My goal is to continue playing football, and I hope I will have the opportunity, I do not reject any offers made to me, but rather study them well until I make the right decision.”

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