Chelsea loanee Mohamed Salah starring as buoyant Fiorentina eye glory

Since a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Serie A basement dwellers Parma in their first game of 2015, Fiorentina have been in buoyant mood.

The Stadio Artemio Franchi outfit recorded a hard-fought 1-0 away win over Inter yesterday in Milan, extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games.

This fact is made all the more impressive given that undoubted star player Juan Cuadrado left Florence to join Chelsea in January, with the speculation being drawn out over a couple of weeks before the deal actually happened.

Regardless of the Colombian’s exit, Vincenzo Montella’s side have got on with the job at hand and are now sitting pretty in three competitions, with a successful season potentially in the offing.

With Napoli’s faltering form in third place on the Serie A table, La Viola’s win at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza means that they are only two points adrift of Rafa Benítez’s men and in with a real chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

After an excellent 2-0 win over Roma in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia, Fiorentina will now face Juventus in the semi-finals over two legs.

Meanwhile, after proving their pedigree in knocking Tottenham out of the Europa League, Montella’s men have an all-Italian clash with the Giallorossi in the next stage and will look to exact elimination on Rudi García’s side once more.

Fiorentina’s positive recent form has been based around a stringent rearguard, with a three-man central defence conceding the least goals in the Italian top flight after Juventus and Roma.

However, at the other end of the pitch, La Viola have been buoyed by the arrival of Mohamed Salah.

Montella recently stated that he felt the Italian side had come out of the Cuadrado deal better off than Chelsea, and there is seemingly some credence in the statement if the respective players’ form for their new employers is anything to go by.

Mohamed SalahWhile the Colombian has had to bide his time at Stamford Bridge and has mostly been used as a substitute by the Blues, Salah has been taking Italian football by storm

The Egyptian winger was not given a consistent chance to show what he was capable of in West London, making only six Premier League starts for José Mourinho’s men in an abject stint.

However, since moving to the Artemio Franchi, Salah looks like the player that captured the imagination in a forward-thinking FC Basel team in seasons past.

The African attacker has not been confined to a wide role, with Salah playing off a main striker and contributing goals towards the Fiorentina cause.

The 22-year-old came off the bench to score the winner against Inter yesterday, taking his tally to three goals in his first four Serie A appearances.

He also netted in the 3-1 victory over Sassuolo, while a strike against Torino last month should have handed La Viola three points before a late equaliser from the away team.

Salah also scored the decisive goal in the aggregate victory over Tottenham in the Europa League and looks like a man reborn under Montella’s tutelage.

Given the chance to play and with a point to prove, the Egypt international is brimming with confidence and will represent a significant threat to opposition defences for the remainder of the campaign.

Like Kevin De Bruyne, who left Chelsea after struggling for first-team action only to star at Wolfsburg, Salah is reaping the benefits of regular football and will surely be reluctant to return to England if his current form continues.

For Fiorentina there is a feeling that 2014-15 could be a very special season, with Salah proving the club’s new poster boy and nullifying the potential negative impact of Cuadrado’s departure.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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