Philipp Degen: Klopp is the key to Salah’s form
Mohamed Salah’s former teammate Philipp Degen remembers the young Pharaoh’s early days in Switzerland and how he developed after leaving to the English Premier League, the Serie A and back to the EPL.
The 25-year-old played along with Philipp Degen when he joined Basel in the summer of 2012 coming from Arab Contractors. Degen and Salah first met in a friendly between the Swiss side and Egypt’s U-23 team one month before the Egyptian star moved to Switzerland.
“It was the first time that I saw him,” the Swiss player told Sky Sports. “I was immediately struck by his speed. In football today, quickness is the most valuable asset that you can have as a player. High speed is the only thing that nobody can defend against and he had it.”
This was the beginning of Salah’s journey in Europe, which later attracted the interests of Chelsea, Fiorentina, AS Roma and Liverpool. He has been in his best form this season since moving to England in the summer of 2017 scoring 29 goals in 35 appearances for the Reds.
“He was very fast but he was not the best with his feet in the very beginning,” Degen adds. “Even so, we knew that if we passed it into the space ahead of him, he would get every single ball. Once he adapted and developed that left foot, he was always going to have a big career.”
Salah confessed before that without Basel he wouldn’t be the player he is now, he assured that he still has a good relationship with everyone there.
“At first, he was a sub but he was soon making a difference in the big matches,” the player said. “I remember he had two great games against Chelsea in the Champions League. That was the start for him.”
Degen also thinks that part of the reason why Salah faced a tough time during his spell with Chelsea was that the environment with the English club led by then-coach Jose Mourinho was less forgiving than that of Basel’s which did not give the Egyptian enough freedom for trial and error.
“In my opinion, Klopp is the key to Mo’s form,” he explains. “He is a motivator who wants to play attacking football at speed. That is exactly the type of football that Mo needs. I think he’s taken him to another level.”
He also praised Salah off the pitch calling him funny, smiling and open. “You can make jokes with him. He is not in it for himself. He is part of the team and everyone liked him,” he concluded.
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