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Mohamed Salah poised to face Chelsea – but why did Liverpool midfielder reject Anfield in favour of Stamford Bridge?

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.” Salah scores against Chelsea during a Champions League game while the Egyptian was still at Basel Credit: Reuters 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." Chelsea’s late move was not unusual. They had acted similarly a year earlier when securing Willian when first Liverpool, and then Tottenham’s negotiations had reached an advanced stage. But what happened to Salah once he headed to Stamford Bridge, and how little he was used, added to the intrigue as to why Chelsea pursued him. He would make only 19 appearances for the club, including just 10 starts. Salah (right) joined Chelsea in 2014 despite Liverpool's interest in the midfielder Credit: Action Images The striking difference in his performances at Stamford Bridge and at Liverpool having finally made the move to Anfield three years later make it more mystifying. There are two theories as to why Salah’s Chelsea and Liverpool career contrast so much. First, there is the diplomatic view.  When Salah moved from Basel to Stamford Bridge he was an emerging talent, only 22 and finding himself competing with high class team-mates Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. He was not physically ready for English football, and struggled with the tactical demands of Jose Mourinho. Only after moving to Italian football did he mature into the fully developed player he has become since joining Liverpool. Given Chelsea have won two league titles in the last three seasons, for all the criticism of the quality players they recruited and then appeared to lose too soon – Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku come into same category – they are yet to suffer. Then there is the alternative, more colourful, conspiratorial belief; that Chelsea’s primary motive when signing Salah was to prevent Liverpool getting him. For Chelsea Salah was a useful back-up option. At Anfield he would have added strength to a team fighting with Chelsea for the Premier League. While Liverpool were trying to close the deal, Chelsea were in negotiations with Manchester United to sell Juan Mata for £37 million. They knew Salah was available and were ready and able to offer whatever was needed to gazump Liverpool. Salah barely played for Chelsea after Jose Mourinho had led the courtship  Credit: Action Images Mourinho led the charm offensive by calling Salah directly, and his agent went cold on Liverpool who later learned whatever they were prepared to offer, Chelsea would keep adding digits. It is telling that not long after moving to Chelsea, Salah changed representative. Friends of Salah have since spoken about the contrast between the Mourinho who courted the winger and barely selected him once signed. The idea that Chelsea’s move was an opportunistic act of sabotage against Liverpool is fanciful, but their pursuit was late enough to provoke the suggestion and the less Salah played the more those around him felt he had been signed by the wrong club for the wrong reason.  Whether a world-class coach such as Mourinho would really ignore the first-team claims of such a rapid, gifted player had he excelled in training may require a greater stretch of imagination. Nevertheless, in the last 24 hours even ex-team mate Hazard has expressed his surprise at how little Salah was used stating ‘in training he would do everything’. Salah finally joined Liverpool in the summer, three years after first showing an interest in the player Credit: Getty Images That Liverpool returned for Salah three years later at three times the price left their own recruiters open to criticism, but the club felt his subsequent performances on loan at Fiorentina and then having signed for Roma validated their earlier assessment. Salah’s current agent Ramy Abbas Issa, proved to be more straightforward to deal with than his predecessor. Despite paying an extra £24 million, there is also a feeling at Anfield the timing may have worked in their favour. Would Salah have thrived as much under Rodgers, who was never comfortable playing Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3? Whatever the circumstances, Salah’s brief Chelsea career has looked more peculiar with every goal and assist he has produced in a Liverpool jersey. He is unlikely to state it publicly – he has declined interviews since his move to Merseyside citing shyness rather self-importance – but this weekend’s visit of his former club is the fixture he has been looking forward to more than any.

Mohamed Salah poised to face Chelsea – but why did Liverpool midfielder reject Anfield in favour of Stamford Bridge?

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.” Salah scores against Chelsea during a Champions League game while the Egyptian was still at Basel Credit: Reuters 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." Chelsea’s late move was not unusual. They had acted similarly a year earlier when securing Willian when first Liverpool, and then Tottenham’s negotiations had reached an advanced stage. But what happened to Salah once he headed to Stamford Bridge, and how little he was used, added to the intrigue as to why Chelsea pursued him. He would make only 19 appearances for the club, including just 10 starts. Salah (right) joined Chelsea in 2014 despite Liverpool's interest in the midfielder Credit: Action Images The striking difference in his performances at Stamford Bridge and at Liverpool having finally made the move to Anfield three years later make it more mystifying. There are two theories as to why Salah’s Chelsea and Liverpool career contrast so much. First, there is the diplomatic view.  When Salah moved from Basel to Stamford Bridge he was an emerging talent, only 22 and finding himself competing with high class team-mates Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. He was not physically ready for English football, and struggled with the tactical demands of Jose Mourinho. Only after moving to Italian football did he mature into the fully developed player he has become since joining Liverpool. Given Chelsea have won two league titles in the last three seasons, for all the criticism of the quality players they recruited and then appeared to lose too soon – Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku come into same category – they are yet to suffer. Then there is the alternative, more colourful, conspiratorial belief; that Chelsea’s primary motive when signing Salah was to prevent Liverpool getting him. For Chelsea Salah was a useful back-up option. At Anfield he would have added strength to a team fighting with Chelsea for the Premier League. While Liverpool were trying to close the deal, Chelsea were in negotiations with Manchester United to sell Juan Mata for £37 million. They knew Salah was available and were ready and able to offer whatever was needed to gazump Liverpool. Salah barely played for Chelsea after Jose Mourinho had led the courtship  Credit: Action Images Mourinho led the charm offensive by calling Salah directly, and his agent went cold on Liverpool who later learned whatever they were prepared to offer, Chelsea would keep adding digits. It is telling that not long after moving to Chelsea, Salah changed representative. Friends of Salah have since spoken about the contrast between the Mourinho who courted the winger and barely selected him once signed. The idea that Chelsea’s move was an opportunistic act of sabotage against Liverpool is fanciful, but their pursuit was late enough to provoke the suggestion and the less Salah played the more those around him felt he had been signed by the wrong club for the wrong reason.  Whether a world-class coach such as Mourinho would really ignore the first-team claims of such a rapid, gifted player had he excelled in training may require a greater stretch of imagination. Nevertheless, in the last 24 hours even ex-team mate Hazard has expressed his surprise at how little Salah was used stating ‘in training he would do everything’. Salah finally joined Liverpool in the summer, three years after first showing an interest in the player Credit: Getty Images That Liverpool returned for Salah three years later at three times the price left their own recruiters open to criticism, but the club felt his subsequent performances on loan at Fiorentina and then having signed for Roma validated their earlier assessment. Salah’s current agent Ramy Abbas Issa, proved to be more straightforward to deal with than his predecessor. Despite paying an extra £24 million, there is also a feeling at Anfield the timing may have worked in their favour. Would Salah have thrived as much under Rodgers, who was never comfortable playing Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3? Whatever the circumstances, Salah’s brief Chelsea career has looked more peculiar with every goal and assist he has produced in a Liverpool jersey. He is unlikely to state it publicly – he has declined interviews since his move to Merseyside citing shyness rather self-importance – but this weekend’s visit of his former club is the fixture he has been looking forward to more than any.

Mohamed Salah poised to face Chelsea – but why did Liverpool midfielder reject Anfield in favour of Stamford Bridge?

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.” Salah scores against Chelsea during a Champions League game while the Egyptian was still at Basel Credit: Reuters 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." Chelsea’s late move was not unusual. They had acted similarly a year earlier when securing Willian when first Liverpool, and then Tottenham’s negotiations had reached an advanced stage. But what happened to Salah once he headed to Stamford Bridge, and how little he was used, added to the intrigue as to why Chelsea pursued him. He would make only 19 appearances for the club, including just 10 starts. Salah (right) joined Chelsea in 2014 despite Liverpool's interest in the midfielder Credit: Action Images The striking difference in his performances at Stamford Bridge and at Liverpool having finally made the move to Anfield three years later make it more mystifying. There are two theories as to why Salah’s Chelsea and Liverpool career contrast so much. First, there is the diplomatic view.  When Salah moved from Basel to Stamford Bridge he was an emerging talent, only 22 and finding himself competing with high class team-mates Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. He was not physically ready for English football, and struggled with the tactical demands of Jose Mourinho. Only after moving to Italian football did he mature into the fully developed player he has become since joining Liverpool. Given Chelsea have won two league titles in the last three seasons, for all the criticism of the quality players they recruited and then appeared to lose too soon – Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku come into same category – they are yet to suffer. Then there is the alternative, more colourful, conspiratorial belief; that Chelsea’s primary motive when signing Salah was to prevent Liverpool getting him. For Chelsea Salah was a useful back-up option. At Anfield he would have added strength to a team fighting with Chelsea for the Premier League. While Liverpool were trying to close the deal, Chelsea were in negotiations with Manchester United to sell Juan Mata for £37 million. They knew Salah was available and were ready and able to offer whatever was needed to gazump Liverpool. Salah barely played for Chelsea after Jose Mourinho had led the courtship  Credit: Action Images Mourinho led the charm offensive by calling Salah directly, and his agent went cold on Liverpool who later learned whatever they were prepared to offer, Chelsea would keep adding digits. It is telling that not long after moving to Chelsea, Salah changed representative. Friends of Salah have since spoken about the contrast between the Mourinho who courted the winger and barely selected him once signed. The idea that Chelsea’s move was an opportunistic act of sabotage against Liverpool is fanciful, but their pursuit was late enough to provoke the suggestion and the less Salah played the more those around him felt he had been signed by the wrong club for the wrong reason.  Whether a world-class coach such as Mourinho would really ignore the first-team claims of such a rapid, gifted player had he excelled in training may require a greater stretch of imagination. Nevertheless, in the last 24 hours even ex-team mate Hazard has expressed his surprise at how little Salah was used stating ‘in training he would do everything’. Salah finally joined Liverpool in the summer, three years after first showing an interest in the player Credit: Getty Images That Liverpool returned for Salah three years later at three times the price left their own recruiters open to criticism, but the club felt his subsequent performances on loan at Fiorentina and then having signed for Roma validated their earlier assessment. Salah’s current agent Ramy Abbas Issa, proved to be more straightforward to deal with than his predecessor. Despite paying an extra £24 million, there is also a feeling at Anfield the timing may have worked in their favour. Would Salah have thrived as much under Rodgers, who was never comfortable playing Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3? Whatever the circumstances, Salah’s brief Chelsea career has looked more peculiar with every goal and assist he has produced in a Liverpool jersey. He is unlikely to state it publicly – he has declined interviews since his move to Merseyside citing shyness rather self-importance – but this weekend’s visit of his former club is the fixture he has been looking forward to more than any.

Mohamed Salah poised to face Chelsea – but why did Liverpool midfielder reject Anfield in favour of Stamford Bridge?

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.” Salah scores against Chelsea during a Champions League game while the Egyptian was still at Basel Credit: Reuters 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." Chelsea’s late move was not unusual. They had acted similarly a year earlier when securing Willian when first Liverpool, and then Tottenham’s negotiations had reached an advanced stage. But what happened to Salah once he headed to Stamford Bridge, and how little he was used, added to the intrigue as to why Chelsea pursued him. He would make only 19 appearances for the club, including just 10 starts. Salah (right) joined Chelsea in 2014 despite Liverpool's interest in the midfielder Credit: Action Images The striking difference in his performances at Stamford Bridge and at Liverpool having finally made the move to Anfield three years later make it more mystifying. There are two theories as to why Salah’s Chelsea and Liverpool career contrast so much. First, there is the diplomatic view.  When Salah moved from Basel to Stamford Bridge he was an emerging talent, only 22 and finding himself competing with high class team-mates Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. He was not physically ready for English football, and struggled with the tactical demands of Jose Mourinho. Only after moving to Italian football did he mature into the fully developed player he has become since joining Liverpool. Given Chelsea have won two league titles in the last three seasons, for all the criticism of the quality players they recruited and then appeared to lose too soon – Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku come into same category – they are yet to suffer. Then there is the alternative, more colourful, conspiratorial belief; that Chelsea’s primary motive when signing Salah was to prevent Liverpool getting him. For Chelsea Salah was a useful back-up option. At Anfield he would have added strength to a team fighting with Chelsea for the Premier League. While Liverpool were trying to close the deal, Chelsea were in negotiations with Manchester United to sell Juan Mata for £37 million. They knew Salah was available and were ready and able to offer whatever was needed to gazump Liverpool. Salah barely played for Chelsea after Jose Mourinho had led the courtship  Credit: Action Images Mourinho led the charm offensive by calling Salah directly, and his agent went cold on Liverpool who later learned whatever they were prepared to offer, Chelsea would keep adding digits. It is telling that not long after moving to Chelsea, Salah changed representative. Friends of Salah have since spoken about the contrast between the Mourinho who courted the winger and barely selected him once signed. The idea that Chelsea’s move was an opportunistic act of sabotage against Liverpool is fanciful, but their pursuit was late enough to provoke the suggestion and the less Salah played the more those around him felt he had been signed by the wrong club for the wrong reason.  Whether a world-class coach such as Mourinho would really ignore the first-team claims of such a rapid, gifted player had he excelled in training may require a greater stretch of imagination. Nevertheless, in the last 24 hours even ex-team mate Hazard has expressed his surprise at how little Salah was used stating ‘in training he would do everything’. Salah finally joined Liverpool in the summer, three years after first showing an interest in the player Credit: Getty Images That Liverpool returned for Salah three years later at three times the price left their own recruiters open to criticism, but the club felt his subsequent performances on loan at Fiorentina and then having signed for Roma validated their earlier assessment. Salah’s current agent Ramy Abbas Issa, proved to be more straightforward to deal with than his predecessor. Despite paying an extra £24 million, there is also a feeling at Anfield the timing may have worked in their favour. Would Salah have thrived as much under Rodgers, who was never comfortable playing Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3? Whatever the circumstances, Salah’s brief Chelsea career has looked more peculiar with every goal and assist he has produced in a Liverpool jersey. He is unlikely to state it publicly – he has declined interviews since his move to Merseyside citing shyness rather self-importance – but this weekend’s visit of his former club is the fixture he has been looking forward to more than any.

Mohamed Salah poised to face Chelsea – but why did Liverpool midfielder reject Anfield in favour of Stamford Bridge?

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.” Salah scores against Chelsea during a Champions League game while the Egyptian was still at Basel Credit: Reuters 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." Chelsea’s late move was not unusual. They had acted similarly a year earlier when securing Willian when first Liverpool, and then Tottenham’s negotiations had reached an advanced stage. But what happened to Salah once he headed to Stamford Bridge, and how little he was used, added to the intrigue as to why Chelsea pursued him. He would make only 19 appearances for the club, including just 10 starts. Salah (right) joined Chelsea in 2014 despite Liverpool's interest in the midfielder Credit: Action Images The striking difference in his performances at Stamford Bridge and at Liverpool having finally made the move to Anfield three years later make it more mystifying. There are two theories as to why Salah’s Chelsea and Liverpool career contrast so much. First, there is the diplomatic view.  When Salah moved from Basel to Stamford Bridge he was an emerging talent, only 22 and finding himself competing with high class team-mates Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. He was not physically ready for English football, and struggled with the tactical demands of Jose Mourinho. Only after moving to Italian football did he mature into the fully developed player he has become since joining Liverpool. Given Chelsea have won two league titles in the last three seasons, for all the criticism of the quality players they recruited and then appeared to lose too soon – Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku come into same category – they are yet to suffer. Then there is the alternative, more colourful, conspiratorial belief; that Chelsea’s primary motive when signing Salah was to prevent Liverpool getting him. For Chelsea Salah was a useful back-up option. At Anfield he would have added strength to a team fighting with Chelsea for the Premier League. While Liverpool were trying to close the deal, Chelsea were in negotiations with Manchester United to sell Juan Mata for £37 million. They knew Salah was available and were ready and able to offer whatever was needed to gazump Liverpool. Salah barely played for Chelsea after Jose Mourinho had led the courtship  Credit: Action Images Mourinho led the charm offensive by calling Salah directly, and his agent went cold on Liverpool who later learned whatever they were prepared to offer, Chelsea would keep adding digits. It is telling that not long after moving to Chelsea, Salah changed representative. Friends of Salah have since spoken about the contrast between the Mourinho who courted the winger and barely selected him once signed. The idea that Chelsea’s move was an opportunistic act of sabotage against Liverpool is fanciful, but their pursuit was late enough to provoke the suggestion and the less Salah played the more those around him felt he had been signed by the wrong club for the wrong reason.  Whether a world-class coach such as Mourinho would really ignore the first-team claims of such a rapid, gifted player had he excelled in training may require a greater stretch of imagination. Nevertheless, in the last 24 hours even ex-team mate Hazard has expressed his surprise at how little Salah was used stating ‘in training he would do everything’. Salah finally joined Liverpool in the summer, three years after first showing an interest in the player Credit: Getty Images That Liverpool returned for Salah three years later at three times the price left their own recruiters open to criticism, but the club felt his subsequent performances on loan at Fiorentina and then having signed for Roma validated their earlier assessment. Salah’s current agent Ramy Abbas Issa, proved to be more straightforward to deal with than his predecessor. Despite paying an extra £24 million, there is also a feeling at Anfield the timing may have worked in their favour. Would Salah have thrived as much under Rodgers, who was never comfortable playing Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3? Whatever the circumstances, Salah’s brief Chelsea career has looked more peculiar with every goal and assist he has produced in a Liverpool jersey. He is unlikely to state it publicly – he has declined interviews since his move to Merseyside citing shyness rather self-importance – but this weekend’s visit of his former club is the fixture he has been looking forward to more than any.

Eden Hazard hails Mohamed Salah as a 'top, top, top, player' ahead of Chelsea's trip to Anfield

The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool may have become increasingly fierce in recent years, but that animosity will not prevent Eden Hazard from seeking out his good friend Mohamed Salah at the final whistle of Saturday’s meeting at Anfield. Hazard, who became close with Salah during the Liverpool winger’s short spell at Chelsea earlier in his career, described his former team-mate as a “top, top, top player” ahead of the game, and said he will be asking to swap shirts with the Egyptian afterwards. Salah played only 13 Premier League matches for Chelsea after joining the club in January 2014. Since returning to England this summer, he has scored 14 goals in just 18 appearances for Liverpool, including nine in the league. “He is still my friend,” said Hazard. “We are still in contact together. He’s a top, top, top player. He did not get his chance at Chelsea but we know, in the team, the quality he has. He is a fantastic striker and this season he has scored a lot of goals. “He did not get the chance [at Chelsea]. Maybe because of the manager, because of the players, I don’t know. But he is a top player for sure. “In training he did everything. Even in the games when he was playing, sometimes he scored goals, so we know the quality he has.” Mohamed Salah in action for Liverpool Credit: AFP Hazard said he played close attention to Salah’s performances in Italy, where he impressed for Fiorentina and Roma after leaving Chelsea. “I am just happy for him,” Hazard added. “I was watching him when he played for Roma and he did very well and now he is still at the top.” Asked how Salah felt about his frustrating spell in London, Hazard said: “I think his feeling was good. When you are not playing in one club you need to go. “You need a chance and he took his chance at Fiorentina, so he did everything that you have to do when you are not playing. If I am not playing, I want to go. That’s normal because all the players want to play.” He also joked that he would be picking up the phone to Salah ahead of the game in an attempt to “put pressure” on the Egyptian. The relationship between Hazard and Salah provides another layer of intrigue ahead of Saturday's meeting. Both attackers are in scintillating form and both can lay claim to being their side’s most dangerous attacking player. Salah has either scored or assisted almost half of Liverpool’s goals this season, while Hazard scored his sixth goal in seven games during Chelsea’s comfortable 4-0 win over FK Qarabag in Baku on Wednesday. Salah has created 18 chances in the Premier League, including assists, compared to Hazard’s 17, while both players have attempted the exact same number of dribbles this season with 45. Hazard is the more successful dribbler, though, having completed 31 of those attempts compared to Salah’s 23. The Belgian said he is now “100 per cent” fit after the start to his campaign was interrupted by an ankle injury, adding that he is “feeling the same feeling as last year,” when he played an integral role in Chelsea’s title-winning success. Eden Hazard is feeling back to his best Credit: PA Since losing 3-0 to Roma last month, Chelsea have won three games in a row, scoring nine goals in the process. Manager Antonio Conte has been aggrieved by the fixture scheduling, though, saying it is unfair that his team must play at Liverpool so soon after the 2,500-mile return trip from Azerbaijan. Chelsea also played on the Saturday following a Wednesday European game earlier this season, when they lost 1-0 to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. They arrived home from Baku in the early hours of Thursday morning and Hazard said the players shared Conte’s frustrations. “The time between the games is very short,” Hazard said. “We need to adapt. We did not adapt well against Manchester City so we need to do better on Saturday.”

Eden Hazard hails Mohamed Salah as a 'top, top, top, player' ahead of Chelsea's trip to Anfield

The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool may have become increasingly fierce in recent years, but that animosity will not prevent Eden Hazard from seeking out his good friend Mohamed Salah at the final whistle of Saturday’s meeting at Anfield. Hazard, who became close with Salah during the Liverpool winger’s short spell at Chelsea earlier in his career, described his former team-mate as a “top, top, top player” ahead of the game, and said he will be asking to swap shirts with the Egyptian afterwards. Salah played only 13 Premier League matches for Chelsea after joining the club in January 2014. Since returning to England this summer, he has scored 14 goals in just 18 appearances for Liverpool, including nine in the league. “He is still my friend,” said Hazard. “We are still in contact together. He’s a top, top, top player. He did not get his chance at Chelsea but we know, in the team, the quality he has. He is a fantastic striker and this season he has scored a lot of goals. “He did not get the chance [at Chelsea]. Maybe because of the manager, because of the players, I don’t know. But he is a top player for sure. “In training he did everything. Even in the games when he was playing, sometimes he scored goals, so we know the quality he has.” Mohamed Salah in action for Liverpool Credit: AFP Hazard said he played close attention to Salah’s performances in Italy, where he impressed for Fiorentina and Roma after leaving Chelsea. “I am just happy for him,” Hazard added. “I was watching him when he played for Roma and he did very well and now he is still at the top.” Asked how Salah felt about his frustrating spell in London, Hazard said: “I think his feeling was good. When you are not playing in one club you need to go. “You need a chance and he took his chance at Fiorentina, so he did everything that you have to do when you are not playing. If I am not playing, I want to go. That’s normal because all the players want to play.” He also joked that he would be picking up the phone to Salah ahead of the game in an attempt to “put pressure” on the Egyptian. The relationship between Hazard and Salah provides another layer of intrigue ahead of Saturday's meeting. Both attackers are in scintillating form and both can lay claim to being their side’s most dangerous attacking player. Salah has either scored or assisted almost half of Liverpool’s goals this season, while Hazard scored his sixth goal in seven games during Chelsea’s comfortable 4-0 win over FK Qarabag in Baku on Wednesday. Salah has created 18 chances in the Premier League, including assists, compared to Hazard’s 17, while both players have attempted the exact same number of dribbles this season with 45. Hazard is the more successful dribbler, though, having completed 31 of those attempts compared to Salah’s 23. The Belgian said he is now “100 per cent” fit after the start to his campaign was interrupted by an ankle injury, adding that he is “feeling the same feeling as last year,” when he played an integral role in Chelsea’s title-winning success. Eden Hazard is feeling back to his best Credit: PA Since losing 3-0 to Roma last month, Chelsea have won three games in a row, scoring nine goals in the process. Manager Antonio Conte has been aggrieved by the fixture scheduling, though, saying it is unfair that his team must play at Liverpool so soon after the 2,500-mile return trip from Azerbaijan. Chelsea also played on the Saturday following a Wednesday European game earlier this season, when they lost 1-0 to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. They arrived home from Baku in the early hours of Thursday morning and Hazard said the players shared Conte’s frustrations. “The time between the games is very short,” Hazard said. “We need to adapt. We did not adapt well against Manchester City so we need to do better on Saturday.”

Eden Hazard hails Mohamed Salah as a 'top, top, top, player' ahead of Chelsea's trip to Anfield

The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool may have become increasingly fierce in recent years, but that animosity will not prevent Eden Hazard from seeking out his good friend Mohamed Salah at the final whistle of Saturday’s meeting at Anfield. Hazard, who became close with Salah during the Liverpool winger’s short spell at Chelsea earlier in his career, described his former team-mate as a “top, top, top player” ahead of the game, and said he will be asking to swap shirts with the Egyptian afterwards. Salah played only 13 Premier League matches for Chelsea after joining the club in January 2014. Since returning to England this summer, he has scored 14 goals in just 18 appearances for Liverpool, including nine in the league. “He is still my friend,” said Hazard. “We are still in contact together. He’s a top, top, top player. He did not get his chance at Chelsea but we know, in the team, the quality he has. He is a fantastic striker and this season he has scored a lot of goals. “He did not get the chance [at Chelsea]. Maybe because of the manager, because of the players, I don’t know. But he is a top player for sure. “In training he did everything. Even in the games when he was playing, sometimes he scored goals, so we know the quality he has.” Mohamed Salah in action for Liverpool Credit: AFP Hazard said he played close attention to Salah’s performances in Italy, where he impressed for Fiorentina and Roma after leaving Chelsea. “I am just happy for him,” Hazard added. “I was watching him when he played for Roma and he did very well and now he is still at the top.” Asked how Salah felt about his frustrating spell in London, Hazard said: “I think his feeling was good. When you are not playing in one club you need to go. “You need a chance and he took his chance at Fiorentina, so he did everything that you have to do when you are not playing. If I am not playing, I want to go. That’s normal because all the players want to play.” He also joked that he would be picking up the phone to Salah ahead of the game in an attempt to “put pressure” on the Egyptian. The relationship between Hazard and Salah provides another layer of intrigue ahead of Saturday's meeting. Both attackers are in scintillating form and both can lay claim to being their side’s most dangerous attacking player. Salah has either scored or assisted almost half of Liverpool’s goals this season, while Hazard scored his sixth goal in seven games during Chelsea’s comfortable 4-0 win over FK Qarabag in Baku on Wednesday. Salah has created 18 chances in the Premier League, including assists, compared to Hazard’s 17, while both players have attempted the exact same number of dribbles this season with 45. Hazard is the more successful dribbler, though, having completed 31 of those attempts compared to Salah’s 23. The Belgian said he is now “100 per cent” fit after the start to his campaign was interrupted by an ankle injury, adding that he is “feeling the same feeling as last year,” when he played an integral role in Chelsea’s title-winning success. Eden Hazard is feeling back to his best Credit: PA Since losing 3-0 to Roma last month, Chelsea have won three games in a row, scoring nine goals in the process. Manager Antonio Conte has been aggrieved by the fixture scheduling, though, saying it is unfair that his team must play at Liverpool so soon after the 2,500-mile return trip from Azerbaijan. Chelsea also played on the Saturday following a Wednesday European game earlier this season, when they lost 1-0 to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. They arrived home from Baku in the early hours of Thursday morning and Hazard said the players shared Conte’s frustrations. “The time between the games is very short,” Hazard said. “We need to adapt. We did not adapt well against Manchester City so we need to do better on Saturday.”

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann scores the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Antoine Griezmann puts the whistles and boos behind him with match-winning performance against Roma

Antoine Griezmann puts the whistles and boos behind him with match-winning performance against Roma

Antoine Griezmann puts the whistles and boos behind him with match-winning performance against Roma

Antoine Griezmann puts the whistles and boos behind him with match-winning performance against Roma

Built Over Time, AS Roma Grows Toward Meeting Owner James Pallotta's Lofty Vision

AS Roma is on a roll lately. It’s in good shape to advance from a Champions League group that includes Chelsea and Atlético Madrid, and it will be right near the top of Serie A if it can win its game in hand. After speaking to Roma’s Boston-based owner James Pallotta on Tuesday, it's clear he is very confident about the future of his club.

Pallotta, now in his seventh year as Roma owner, said he’s expecting an announcement this Friday of regional approvals for a new Roma stadium that would break ground next spring. It would be a 54,000-seat stadium alongside an entertainment complex. Privately funded at the cost of nearly $1 billion, the new complex would more than double Roma’s revenue models, Pallotta said. He wants Roma to be one of the top five to 10 clubs in Europe every year and be in contention regularly to win the Champions League.

The Roma owner spoke about a lot of things, in fact, which are part of our conversation below (lightly edited for length and clarity):

SI.com: Roma is doing well in the Italian league and in Champions League, despite having a first-year manager (Eusebio Di Francesco) and director of football (Monchi). Is this happening a bit sooner than you expected? Or is this according to plan?

Pallotta: No, I think our goal going back to the beginning was to consistently try to get into Champions League. Which clearly wasn’t easy the first few years or so. But we did it three times out of the four and one Europa [League]. We’re still trying to get a team for the Scudetto. It took a little time to learn some things and a bit more of a philosophical change too in how we’re managing the football operations side of it.

I think Monchi is making that change, and that stuff takes a little time. But we had some things we had to work through. I think we did some very good things in the last three or four years, and we did some things that weren’t great. You just try and improve. We had a lot to learn. I had a lot to learn. But I think we’re getting there. And I think [on Friday] we should have the approvals and announcements on the stadium from the region. So it could be a good Christmas present. A lot changes when people know that we’re definitely getting a stadium.

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SI.com: From a soccer perspective, you mentioned a philosophical change. Is it possible to elaborate on that?

Pallotta: I think we’ve made some changes in the last couple years on our scouting. We’ve built up some incredible analytics. We’re actually going to the next level on analytics that we don’t think has been done before with a couple machine-learning projects on it. I think our academy system has changed for the better, both whatever we can do to improve it in Italy and the U.S. and some other places. We feel like we’ve given up many times on our youth. I’m not sure if I’m right, but I’m pretty sure we’re No. 6 in terms of supplying talent to other teams around Europe.

You take a look at someone like [Lorenzo] Pellegrini, who we had loaned out before, and I’m not sure with Monchi there we would have done the same thing. We might have, to give him more playing time. But to me he’s an extremely important piece of Roma for the next decade. And we want to make sure that players like that, young players, that they stay with Roma and understand that Roma wants them. So how we go about doing that I think is a little different from probably before.

We have a whole bunch of others in our youth programs that we’re pretty high on, all the way down to some 15- and 16-year-olds. Obviously they’re young, but we’ve identified a lot of talent. We really think at some point with the kind of talent we’ve been putting through there and the programs we have and the changes, that we might have five or six kids per year that can be first-team players coming up. And then a couple other things we’re doing in terms of relationships with other teams in other countries, they take time to put into place. But we’re happy with where we’re getting.

SI.com: In terms of Monchi and Di Francesco, it’s still sort of early, but you have to be pleased with where you are now, right?

Pallotta: Well, in the case of Monchi, he had 15 or 16 years of experience with one team [Sevilla] and a well-deserved reputation. What he did in finding young players and having a much smaller budget than most teams and competing how he did in not just the league but throughout Europe, winning five Europas, you have to feel really good when I started having conversations with him that he liked what we were thinking about at Roma. And we got him. When there were plenty of other big teams that I know wanted him for more money. He liked what we were talking about, and there were a bunch of things he’s had to do and clean up.

He had a very hard-working summer, and we still have some ways to go on some stuff. But I have a good relationship with him. I think he’s been great for the team, and he’s a players’ guy. He can have conversations with the players and the coach and the staff. So from that point of view, having complete faith in that, it’s been great. He’s at least what I thought and expected, if not more.

And in Di Francesco’s case, the last couple years we liked the way he played and thought [coaching Sassuolo]. But coming into Rome, the good thing is he played at Roma, so he understands the difficulties in Rome from the derby to just being in Rome sometimes with all the media looking at you and all the radio and TV stations. And he understands it. He handles it.

I think he’s turned out to be incredibly more flexible. When we had conversations with him in the summer, he said this is the style I play, and this is what I play. Within a game or two, you saw the adjustments that he makes. And while he does have his basic style, you have to really like what he’s been doing. When we can go to Chelsea and play the way we did [in a 3-3 tie], sometimes in the past you’d look at it and go, ‘Here we go again.’

And his rotations are great. We realized we had to get deeper this year, and we got substantially deeper. He’s utilizing players a lot. You look at somebody like Gerson, who people think is just a midfielder, and he comes in and plays right forward and scores two goals. And you go, maybe he’s better as a forward! You look at [Alessandro] Florenzi, he can play right back and right forward, and he might be best suited as a midfielder.

Unfortunately we’ve had some injuries, like with some guys like [Rick] Karsdorp. [Patrik] Schick should be coming back soon, and we’re very high on him. [Grégoire] Defrel can play right forward or on the left behind [Edin] Dzeko. Schick can play right or he can play with Dzeko or in place of Dzeko. [Stephan] El Shaarawy comes in, and people think he’s just a left forward, and then he plays right forward and makes different types of cuts and scores two goals against Chelsea on the right side. You just see that interchange, and that’s nice, and he’s utilizing that.

SI.com: Is this Roma team good enough to win the Italian league?

Pallotta: In terms of the Italian league, I think the last couple years we were good enough, too. When [Luciano] Spalletti came in and went undefeated the last 17 games, we weren’t that far behind. And if we had played in the first half of the year before I made the change, there was a period where we had 11 games without a win. You take someone like Spalletti, and I can look at those games and I did, and there’s no reason why three or four or five of those shouldn’t have been wins. There’s 10 points right there. And last year we finished four points behind. So you’re right there. There were some games against teams that we should have won, and we tied. We’re getting tougher as a team. So do I think so? Yeah.

By the way, I think the style and the play that’s going on in the Italian league right now is as good as anything that’s going on in any league in Europe. Napoli, Juventus, Inter, Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio. You can have at some point AC Milan and maybe Fiorentina, but certainly those first six or so. Atalanta, you go there and play them at home. You know, that’s not an easy game. Which we won at the beginning of the year. We’re looking forward to some other teams going into Atalanta and having to play them there. It’s a very difficult league, frankly.

So I do think we can win it. We have a game in hand. We’re right there. We’ve had a tough schedule, I think. And we just have to take care of our own business like we did on Saturday [against Lazio]. I think the team feels more and more comfortable with themselves. There’s a togetherness. You could see it after the Lazio game, where they all went out. There were no factions, no smaller groups, no Eastern Europeans versus others. They’re together.

SI.com: How do you spend your time between Boston and Rome?

Pallotta: Right now I’m spending substantially more time in Boston. Because there’s the Roma stuff, but I have a bunch of other businesses. But at this time with Roma the last six to nine months, there’s just a lot going on in Boston in terms of stadium stuff. So for instance, [on Tuesday] we’ve had our construction company in again. We’ve had in the project manager. It’s almost like on a daily basis we have stuff going on.

Yesterday I spent half the day for the architectural firm of our entertainment complex. It’s not like I wouldn’t mind hanging out in Rome and hanging with the team, and I know sometimes people or the media say 'He’s not in Rome, he’s not in Rome, he’s an absentee owner.' That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m working on a lot of stuff. Our commercial operation is run out of London. So I do spend a bunch of time when I’m in Rome going to London too because of the commercial activity. I just do what I have to do.

Built Over Time, AS Roma Grows Toward Meeting Owner James Pallotta's Lofty Vision

AS Roma is on a roll lately. It’s in good shape to advance from a Champions League group that includes Chelsea and Atlético Madrid, and it will be right near the top of Serie A if it can win its game in hand. After speaking to Roma’s Boston-based owner James Pallotta on Tuesday, it's clear he is very confident about the future of his club.

Pallotta, now in his seventh year as Roma owner, said he’s expecting an announcement this Friday of regional approvals for a new Roma stadium that would break ground next spring. It would be a 54,000-seat stadium alongside an entertainment complex. Privately funded at the cost of nearly $1 billion, the new complex would more than double Roma’s revenue models, Pallotta said. He wants Roma to be one of the top five to 10 clubs in Europe every year and be in contention regularly to win the Champions League.

The Roma owner spoke about a lot of things, in fact, which are part of our conversation below (lightly edited for length and clarity):

SI.com: Roma is doing well in the Italian league and in Champions League, despite having a first-year manager (Eusebio Di Francesco) and director of football (Monchi). Is this happening a bit sooner than you expected? Or is this according to plan?

Pallotta: No, I think our goal going back to the beginning was to consistently try to get into Champions League. Which clearly wasn’t easy the first few years or so. But we did it three times out of the four and one Europa [League]. We’re still trying to get a team for the Scudetto. It took a little time to learn some things and a bit more of a philosophical change too in how we’re managing the football operations side of it.

I think Monchi is making that change, and that stuff takes a little time. But we had some things we had to work through. I think we did some very good things in the last three or four years, and we did some things that weren’t great. You just try and improve. We had a lot to learn. I had a lot to learn. But I think we’re getting there. And I think [on Friday] we should have the approvals and announcements on the stadium from the region. So it could be a good Christmas present. A lot changes when people know that we’re definitely getting a stadium.

Introducing SPORTS ILLUSTRATED TV, your new home for classic sports movies, award-winning documentaries and original sports programming such as Planet Futbol TV, SI TV’s weekly soccer show. Start your seven-day free trial now on Amazon Channels.

SI.com: From a soccer perspective, you mentioned a philosophical change. Is it possible to elaborate on that?

Pallotta: I think we’ve made some changes in the last couple years on our scouting. We’ve built up some incredible analytics. We’re actually going to the next level on analytics that we don’t think has been done before with a couple machine-learning projects on it. I think our academy system has changed for the better, both whatever we can do to improve it in Italy and the U.S. and some other places. We feel like we’ve given up many times on our youth. I’m not sure if I’m right, but I’m pretty sure we’re No. 6 in terms of supplying talent to other teams around Europe.

You take a look at someone like [Lorenzo] Pellegrini, who we had loaned out before, and I’m not sure with Monchi there we would have done the same thing. We might have, to give him more playing time. But to me he’s an extremely important piece of Roma for the next decade. And we want to make sure that players like that, young players, that they stay with Roma and understand that Roma wants them. So how we go about doing that I think is a little different from probably before.

We have a whole bunch of others in our youth programs that we’re pretty high on, all the way down to some 15- and 16-year-olds. Obviously they’re young, but we’ve identified a lot of talent. We really think at some point with the kind of talent we’ve been putting through there and the programs we have and the changes, that we might have five or six kids per year that can be first-team players coming up. And then a couple other things we’re doing in terms of relationships with other teams in other countries, they take time to put into place. But we’re happy with where we’re getting.

SI.com: In terms of Monchi and Di Francesco, it’s still sort of early, but you have to be pleased with where you are now, right?

Pallotta: Well, in the case of Monchi, he had 15 or 16 years of experience with one team [Sevilla] and a well-deserved reputation. What he did in finding young players and having a much smaller budget than most teams and competing how he did in not just the league but throughout Europe, winning five Europas, you have to feel really good when I started having conversations with him that he liked what we were thinking about at Roma. And we got him. When there were plenty of other big teams that I know wanted him for more money. He liked what we were talking about, and there were a bunch of things he’s had to do and clean up.

He had a very hard-working summer, and we still have some ways to go on some stuff. But I have a good relationship with him. I think he’s been great for the team, and he’s a players’ guy. He can have conversations with the players and the coach and the staff. So from that point of view, having complete faith in that, it’s been great. He’s at least what I thought and expected, if not more.

And in Di Francesco’s case, the last couple years we liked the way he played and thought [coaching Sassuolo]. But coming into Rome, the good thing is he played at Roma, so he understands the difficulties in Rome from the derby to just being in Rome sometimes with all the media looking at you and all the radio and TV stations. And he understands it. He handles it.

I think he’s turned out to be incredibly more flexible. When we had conversations with him in the summer, he said this is the style I play, and this is what I play. Within a game or two, you saw the adjustments that he makes. And while he does have his basic style, you have to really like what he’s been doing. When we can go to Chelsea and play the way we did [in a 3-3 tie], sometimes in the past you’d look at it and go, ‘Here we go again.’

And his rotations are great. We realized we had to get deeper this year, and we got substantially deeper. He’s utilizing players a lot. You look at somebody like Gerson, who people think is just a midfielder, and he comes in and plays right forward and scores two goals. And you go, maybe he’s better as a forward! You look at [Alessandro] Florenzi, he can play right back and right forward, and he might be best suited as a midfielder.

Unfortunately we’ve had some injuries, like with some guys like [Rick] Karsdorp. [Patrik] Schick should be coming back soon, and we’re very high on him. [Grégoire] Defrel can play right forward or on the left behind [Edin] Dzeko. Schick can play right or he can play with Dzeko or in place of Dzeko. [Stephan] El Shaarawy comes in, and people think he’s just a left forward, and then he plays right forward and makes different types of cuts and scores two goals against Chelsea on the right side. You just see that interchange, and that’s nice, and he’s utilizing that.

SI.com: Is this Roma team good enough to win the Italian league?

Pallotta: In terms of the Italian league, I think the last couple years we were good enough, too. When [Luciano] Spalletti came in and went undefeated the last 17 games, we weren’t that far behind. And if we had played in the first half of the year before I made the change, there was a period where we had 11 games without a win. You take someone like Spalletti, and I can look at those games and I did, and there’s no reason why three or four or five of those shouldn’t have been wins. There’s 10 points right there. And last year we finished four points behind. So you’re right there. There were some games against teams that we should have won, and we tied. We’re getting tougher as a team. So do I think so? Yeah.

By the way, I think the style and the play that’s going on in the Italian league right now is as good as anything that’s going on in any league in Europe. Napoli, Juventus, Inter, Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio. You can have at some point AC Milan and maybe Fiorentina, but certainly those first six or so. Atalanta, you go there and play them at home. You know, that’s not an easy game. Which we won at the beginning of the year. We’re looking forward to some other teams going into Atalanta and having to play them there. It’s a very difficult league, frankly.

So I do think we can win it. We have a game in hand. We’re right there. We’ve had a tough schedule, I think. And we just have to take care of our own business like we did on Saturday [against Lazio]. I think the team feels more and more comfortable with themselves. There’s a togetherness. You could see it after the Lazio game, where they all went out. There were no factions, no smaller groups, no Eastern Europeans versus others. They’re together.

SI.com: How do you spend your time between Boston and Rome?

Pallotta: Right now I’m spending substantially more time in Boston. Because there’s the Roma stuff, but I have a bunch of other businesses. But at this time with Roma the last six to nine months, there’s just a lot going on in Boston in terms of stadium stuff. So for instance, [on Tuesday] we’ve had our construction company in again. We’ve had in the project manager. It’s almost like on a daily basis we have stuff going on.

Yesterday I spent half the day for the architectural firm of our entertainment complex. It’s not like I wouldn’t mind hanging out in Rome and hanging with the team, and I know sometimes people or the media say 'He’s not in Rome, he’s not in Rome, he’s an absentee owner.' That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m working on a lot of stuff. Our commercial operation is run out of London. So I do spend a bunch of time when I’m in Rome going to London too because of the commercial activity. I just do what I have to do.

Report: Man United's Matteo Darmian on Juventus' Radar

Matteo Darmian is being monitored by three Serie A giants after reports in Italy claimed the full-back could head back to his homeland.

The Manchester United defender has often been tipped to return to the continent after falling down the pecking order at Old Trafford, and Football Italia has now alleged that such a move could soon come to fruition.

Juventus, Napoli and Roma are all thought to harbour ambitions over prising Darmian away from the Premier League to bolster their respective defensive ranks with I Bianconeri and I Ciucciarelli both requiring a new full-back for varying reasons.

Juve are on the look out for a long-term replacement to current star Stephen Leichsteiner, whose contract in Turin will expire next June.

Napoli, meanwhile, were hit with the news that Faouzi Ghoulam will miss a huge portion of the season after he picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury in the 4-2 Champions League defeat to Manchester City on 1st November.

Both clubs would therefore benefit from bringing Darmian back to Serie A, but Roma's growing interest in the Italy international could end up making the tussle a three-way battle - something that United would want to encourage to try and get as much cash as possible for the out-of-favour right-back.

Darmian has only started two top flight matches under Jose Mourinho this season and is only under contract in the north west until June 2019.

He has made nine appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils this season, but was criticised by fans and the media for being at fault for the last-gasp goal United conceded in their 1-0 defeat to Basel on Wednesday.

That mistake is unlikely to put him back in Mourinho's good books and, with the likes of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia standing in his way in both full-back positions, the 27-year-old may opt to cut his ties with United and gain first-team football elsewhere.

Antoine Griezmann nets quite brilliant bicycle kick for Atletico Madrid

Griezmann ended his eight-game goal droughtwith a wonderful overhead kick in Atletismust-win game against Roma

Champions League - Atletico Madrid vs Roma

Soccer Football - Champions League - Atletico Madrid vs Roma - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - November 22, 2017 Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring their first goal wth teammates REUTERS/Sergio Perez - RC16A1366E70

Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone celebrates after his team's second goal during their UEFA Champions League Group C match against AS Roma, at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, on November 22, 2017

Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone celebrates after his team's second goal during their UEFA Champions League Group C match against AS Roma, at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, on November 22, 2017 (AFP Photo/JAVIER SORIANO)

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their UEFA Champions League Group C match against AS Roma, at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, on November 22, 2017

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their UEFA Champions League Group C match against AS Roma, at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, on November 22, 2017 (AFP Photo/GABRIEL BOUYS )

Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone celebrates after his team's second goal during their UEFA Champions League Group C match against AS Roma, at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, on November 22, 2017

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their UEFA Champions League Group C match against AS Roma, at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, on November 22, 2017

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

The midfielder doesn't see any reason to make changes in his career despite receiving high praise from Atletico Madrid's manager

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

The midfielder doesn't see any reason to make changes in his career despite receiving high praise from Atletico Madrid's manager

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise

Radja Nainggolan reaffirmed his commitment to Eusebio Di Francesco's Roma on Wednesday.

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann, left, celebrates his goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann scores the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann shoots to score his side's opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Roma's Aleksandar Kolarov fights for the ball against Atletico's Thomas during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Roma's Aleksandar Kolarov fights for the ball against Atletico's Thomas during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Atletico's Thomas, rear is challenged by Roma's Diego Perotti, top during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring the opening goal during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Roma's Diego Perotti jumps for the ball next to Atletico's Thomas during a Champions League group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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