- Chelsea legend and former Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel has admitted that he never envisaged that the Egypt international Mohamed Salah would become one of the best players in the world.
Salah, the Egyptian winger found playing opportunities hard to come by during his time at Stamford Bridge, scoring two goals in 19 matches before he was sold to Roma in 2016.
His former teammate Mikel is backing the Liverpool star to win the Ballon d’Or in future, adding that he would be proud of his former teammate if it materializes.
“I did not expect Mohamed Salah to succeed after he left Chelsea and went to the Italian League, and from there to Liverpool, I did not expect that he would appear as good as he is now,” Mikel said.
“Salah is no less than the others until he wins the Ballon d’Or, and if that happens I will be proud of him, as he is very committed inside and outside the pitch,” he added.
Mikel believes Salah didn’t play much at Chelsea because he was competing with several world-class players for a starting spot.
“Maybe he did not have the opportunity and there were great players at the highest level,” he observed.
“I remember when he came to Chelsea he was a young boy, he is a nice person and everyone loves him and he was very disciplined and I was his close friend and we were talking and joking a lot and he was a good friend, and to be honest I cannot say what happened with him in Chelsea he needed an opportunity and wanted to play,” Mikel remembered.
“When Salah left Chelsea, he started playing every game, which happened and developed remarkably, and he did not perform well with Chelsea because he did not have the opportunity,” he concluded.
Salah has found his feet at Liverpool, cementing the biggest attacking force together with his teammate and African counterpart Sadio Mane.
The duo shared the 2019 English Premier League (EPL), Golden Boot, won Champions league and help Liverpool opened a wide gap in the suspended EPL thanks to the pandemic coronavirus.
A two-time African Footballer of the Year, Salah was ranked the fifth-best player in the 2019 Ballon d’Or vote after a remarkable year with Liverpool.