Starting tonight, Liverpool and Roma square off for a place in the Champions League final, but two Boston-based men will take a very keen interest on proceedings at Anfield.
Despite not challenging for the Premier League title, Liverpool still have the opportunity to claim the biggest prize in club football, thanks in no small part to the imperious Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian has scored 41 goals so far in a tremendous debut season for the Reds, and was awarded the PFA ‘Player of the Year’ award at the weekend. Not bad for €42 million.
However, such money changing hands between Liverpool and Roma had one crucial part of the deal worried, per Roma owner James Pallotta, who spoke to ESPN ahead of tonight’s semi-final.
Pallotta is also an executive board member of NBA team the Boston Celtics, and is close to Liverpool owner John W. Henry, who owns the Boston Red Sox.
Pallotta recounted a comment Henry made over lunch in the wake of Salah’s arrival in June of last year.
“I told him that because he was sort of bitching a little about, “Did we overpay? I think we overpaid,” and I said “I’ll buy you lunch,” Pallotta told ESPN.
“Where I’m surprised, is how great he’s finishing. I mean I think he would say that in Rome, while he had a bunch of goals, his frustration was not finishing the same way and now you get the ball near his feet and it just seems like he’s figured a way to put it in the net. Do they have bigger nets in the Premier League? It’s just been amazing watching him and every time he scores I’m like, “Oh dear God!”
Henry’s fears were massively unfounded.
As for Pallotta, he was surprisingly accepting of letting the prodigious goalscorer go, citing that Salah felt he had unfinished business in England after a previous failed spell with Chelsea a few years prior.