BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 29, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah before the FA Cup 4th Round match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the Falmer Stadium. Brighton won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How Mo Salah shook off unbelievable “bad egg” theory after leaving Chelsea

Mohamed Salah was so impressive upon leaving Chelsea for Italy that he left team-mates assuming he must have been a “bad egg” to have been let go.

Salah’s journey from Chelsea reject to one of the best players in Liverpool’s history is well known, with the Egyptian needing to rebuild in Serie A before returning to England.

But the manner of his exit from Stamford Bridge remains baffling, with Jose Mourinho barely giving the young winger a chance.

Like Kevin De Bruyne, Salah’s potential was fumbled by those at Chelsea, which proved to be Liverpool’s gain as he now resembles one of their biggest-ever bargains at £36.9 million.

He initially left for a loan spell at Fiorentina in the second half of 2014/15, where he became team-mates with Micah Richards.

And speaking on the Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast, Richards recalled his first impressions of Salah and how he felt he must have been a “bad egg” to have been allowed to leave Chelsea.

“I’ve said it many, many times – I can’t believe it. Honestly, he was unbelievable,” he said.

“I can’t believe that Chelsea let him go on loan.

“He used to get the ball in training, dribble past everyone and just pass it into the net

“He did exact same in the games, and I’m just like ‘why is he not playing at Chelsea?’.

“So I’m thinking in my head ‘he must be a bad egg’, because there’s no way it’s on his football ability – and he was the nicest guy ever.”

Salah and Richards became close during the winger’s brief spell in Florence, before he moved on to AS Roma, with an initial loan becoming permanent in 2016.

In 81 games in Serie A, he scored 35 goals and laid on 22 assists, while in all competitions for Fiorentina and Roma he netted 43 and assisted 26 in 109 outings.

His subsequent move to Anfield has allowed Salah to develop into one of the best players in the world, and that would not have been possible with a “bad egg” attitude.

The opposite is true, in fact, with Salah regularly praised as one of the sport’s most dedicated professionals.

And years on, Richards’ bafflement that Chelsea would allow him to leave is almost certainly shared by those at Liverpool.