It is late January 2014 and Liverpool are awaiting the phone call from Basel confirming the £12 million signing of Mohamed Salah.
A deal has been verbally agreed with the Basel president but he wants to re-consider overnight. Personal terms are not thought to be an issue. Liverpool’s scouting team have been watching the winger for six months and Salah’s arrival is to be the culmination of weeks of negotiations.
A few weeks earlier, the club’s scouting team of Barry Hunter, Dave Fallows and current director of football Michael Edwards convinced then manager Brendan Rodgers to travel to Germany to watch Salah face Schalke in the Champions League.
He believed his Luis Suárez inspired title-chasing side is about to benefit from the Egyptian’s pace and goal threat.
The morning call from Basel does not come. Instead, Liverpool receive an email from the Swiss club.
“The player has decided to join Chelsea.”
There is no explanation what has changed in a matter of hours. Salah’s representative is not accepting phone calls.
Nearly four years on this is still recalled at Anfield as one of the more curious transfer twists of recent years.
“It all smelt a bit funny,” is how one person familiar with the negotiations described it.
“It is hard to take,” Rodgers said at the time. “It’s the construction of the whole deal, not only with the player and the agent but also Basel as a football club. It was deemed in this case that we couldn’t do a deal and Chelsea could. So the boy has gone there.” Read more