Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has been blamed for selling a few Chelsea players who have turned out to be stars at other clubs, but he isn't prepared to shoulder the blame for Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian is easily the Blues' most regrettable sale, having racked up 42 goals for Liverpool this season en route to the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. And there could be more to come, with the Reds on the brink of a Champions League final, following their 5-2 first-leg win over Roma this week.
Mourinho, who has also gotten hit with lots of criticism for also selling the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne, has denied that he influenced Salah's sale, insisting that the club bought the player on his recommendation.
"I think everything has surprised even him. It has been fantastic," the Portuguese told ESPN Brasil reporter Natalie Gedra in an exclusive interview.
"But he is a great player that has reached the peak of maturity, he has already lived several other experiences and now has fitted perfectly into the style of play of the team, of the coach and of the club as well. So it doesn't surprise me that much."
"It is the first time that I am going to say this, but it is another injustice that has been talked about me," he continued. "People say that I was the one that sold Salah and it is the opposite.
"I bought Salah. It is the opposite. I was the one that bought Salah. I was the one that told Chelsea to buy Salah. It was with me in charge that Salah came to Chelsea. But he came as a young kid, physically he was not ready, mentally he was not ready, socially and culturally he was lost and everything was tough for him.
If you think it's bad that Roma let Salah go for €50 million, just remember Jose Mourinho let him go on loan in a swap deal for Juan Cuadrado.— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 24, 2018
"We decided to put him on loan and he asked for that as well. He wanted to play more minutes, to mature, he wanted to go and we sent him on loan to Fiorentina, and at Fiorentina he started to mature.
"Chelsea decided to sell him, OK?
"And when they say that I was the one that sold him it is a lie. I bought him. I agreed to send him on loan, I thought it was necessary, I thought that Chelsea had wingers... Some of them are still there like Willian, [Eden] Hazard and all those players already in a different level.
SO MOURINHO (and true) I LOVE IT 😂— Scott Saunders (@_scottsaunders) April 26, 2018
"So the decision to send him on loan was a decision we made collectively, but after that, the decision to sell him and to use that money to buy another player wasn't mine.
"But even if it was, in football we make mistakes a lot of times, so many times some players develop in way we were not expecting, some other don't reach another level like we thought they would, so I don't even think this is a mistake, it is just part of the job.
"But effectively I did buy Salah, I didn't sell Salah, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that he is a fantastic player, and I am really happy for everything that is happening for him and especially because he scores against everyone and he didn't score against us in two games."