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He is a different player now - Conte defends Chelsea over Salah sale

It is unfair to compare Mohamed Salah when he left Chelsea to the current version at Liverpool, according to Antonio Conte.

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News 27 Apr 2018, 20:59 IST
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antonio conte - cropped
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte believes Chelsea were right to let Mohamed Salah leave, insisting the forward is a different player now from the one who departed Stamford Bridge.

Salah struggled to make an impact during his time at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, making just 19 appearances for the capital club before heading to Italy in February 2015.

But, after productive spells with Fiorentina and Roma in Serie A, the Egypt international has taken the Premier League by storm with Liverpool this season.

Salah has scored 31 times in the league and was recently crowned PFA Players' Player of the Year, edging out another Chelsea old boy in Kevin De Bruyne to scoop the individual honour.

Former Blues manager Mourinho stirred the pot on Thursday by suggesting it was not his decision to offload Salah, yet Conte has sympathy for his employers, considering the circumstances at the time.

"It's not so simple. We have to compare Salah of four or five years ago, and not this Salah now," the Italian told the media.

"Salah in the present has improved a lot, developed a lot his football. The experience in Italy was very important for him.

"Now I'm sure that he's a different player compared to in the past. For this reason, this comparison is very difficult with the players."

While Salah was sold to Roma after a temporary stint at Fiorentina, Tammy Abraham is set to return to Stamford Bridge after his season on loan with Swansea City.

Conte believes the 20-year-old, who is not able to face his parent club on Saturday, will have benefited from his time at the Liberty Stadium - and believes he has a long-term future at Chelsea.

"This is an important experience for Tammy," Conte said ahead of the Premier League fixture at the Liberty Stadium.

"I think for him this season is very important for his development. He's playing, not with regularity but he's playing.

"I think this is right for his experience, to improve his experience and confidence. Then we'll see for the future, what will happen.

"For sure, Tammy is a Chelsea player and will be an important player for the future."

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