CHELSEA agreed an £11m fee for FC Basel winger Mohamed Salah yesterday, freeing the way for playmaker Juan Mata to join Manchester United.
Salah scored twice against the Blues this season in Champions League group matches with Basel and also netted in last year’s Europa League semi-final second-leg defeat at Stamford Bridge.
A Chelsea statement read: “Chelsea 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.”
Salah’s swift, high-energy approach would seem to fit perfectly with manager Jose Mourinho’s demands of his midfielders.
It is a role Mata has struggled to adapt to since Mourinho’s return to west London with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian recently preferred.
And, after a season spent often as a frustrated substitute, Mata moved a step closer to joining United yesterday after the champions had a club-record £37m bid accepted by Chelsea.
The Spain midfielder, who has made 11 Premier League starts this season, is due in Manchester to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical today and could make his debut in Tuesday’s home match with Cardiff.
The prospective deal has angered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger though, who believes a mid-season transfer window should be abolished to ensure all teams operate on a level playing field.
“I can understand completely what Chelsea are doing. They do not make the rules, but maybe the rules should be a bit more adapted for more fairness,” said Wenger, whose team host Coventry in the FA Cup fourth round tonight.
“Chelsea had already played twice against Man United, so they don’t play again anymore. They could have sold him last week, but it opens up again questions about the dates of this transfer window.
“Some teams have already played twice against one opponent and some others not.”