Former Chelsea coach Eddie Newton has shed light on why superstars Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne did not quite work out as hoped at Chelsea.
Both players were brought to Stamford Bridge early in their careers for nominal fees, with De Bruyne costing around £6.7m in 2012 and Salah £11m two years later.
However, despite both going on to becoming two of the world’s best footballers, they never quite made the cut at Chelsea, and were both eventually sold after loan spells elsewhere.
Their arrivals came in the infancy of Chelsea’s well-documented loan system, which Newton was one of the architects of.
And the ex-Blues coach has now explained that their failure to make the grade in west London was effectively down to issues with old boss Jose Mourinho.
“For me, I think Salah and De Bruyne wasn’t about talent. It was a personality clash [with Mourinho]. I just didn’t think it was working at the time,” Newton told Goal.
“I think they were more than good enough [to make it into the first-team], but it was the manager who didn’t see eye-to-eye with them, so it wasn’t going to work.”
Salah and De Bruyne were far from the only stars to fall short, with current Chelsea No.9 Romelu Lukaku also among those to be offloaded.
“For Lukaku, he wasn’t ready at the time, and I don’t care what anyone says,” Newton said.
“He just wasn’t ready to be the main No.9 up front and carry that platform like Didier [Drogba]. He was always going to be compared to Didier and it wasn’t fair to him at that time.
“It was different situations for different players.”
De Bruyne was actually signed by Chelsea during Andre Villas-Boas’ tenure, but his manager even admitted that the transfer had nothing to do with him.
“It’s a target that’s decided by the club, that I knew about for quite some time,” Villas-Boas said at the time.
“In the sense that it’s the club policy for the future, it’s the right thing [to buy him] and I’ll do everything in my power for him to reach maximum potential. But it’s down to the club in decision-making.”
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Newton helped create the club’s vast loan system under the guidance of Rafa Benitez, who was in charge on an interim basis once Villas-Boas, and then Roberto Di Matteo, had been sacked.
Having left Chelsea last year, Newton stepped into the hotseat himself at Turkish club Trabzonspor, but was sacked after just seven matches despite having won the domestic cup during his stint as caretaker.
Part of Newton’s remit while at Chelsea was checking up on the youngsters out on loan and aiding their transition back into first-team affairs.
And he has praised the work of current boss Thomas Tuchel, who he spoke about in glowing terms.
He hailed the German’s approach, working with young coaches and players, and his openness to playing stars who had been out on loan.
Recently, Tuchel has brought Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek back into the fold and both have impressed on the pitch when many thought their Chelsea careers were all-but over.
Newton said: “He [Tuchel] is from the German system, which is all about working with the young coach and young player.
“So he understands it. As well as that winning mentality, he understands development.
“No disrespect to any manager before, but Chelsea now have a manager who understands both sides of the coin.”
Currently, a number of players who had been, or currently are, a part of the Chelsea loan system have been impressing on the pitch.
Trevor Chalobah has forced his way into Tuchel’s plans and already bagged two goals, with a number of impressive performances this season.
Meanwhile, Conor Gallagher has become a key part of Patrick Viera’s Crystal Palace with his endless running and posing a persistent threat in the final third.
And Billy Gilmour has been a bright spot in an otherwise struggling Norwich side after he thrilled over the summer for Scotland against England at Euro 2020.