Chelsea revealed they are set to win the race to sign Egypt winger Mohamed Salah from Basel in a move likely to hasten the departure of Juan Mata to Manchester United.
Blues manager Jose Mourinho has made Salah his top target to replace Spain playmaker Mata, who is set to join United, and he is on the verge of persuading the 21-year-old to move to London despite strong interest from Liverpool.
Chelsea have agreed a transfer fee with Salah's Swiss club and the Egyptian, who has score 17 goals in 27 appearances for his country, will complete his switch to the Premier League side subject to agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.
“Chelsea Football Club can confirm an agreement has been reached with FC Basel for the transfer of their 21-year-old attacking midfielder Mohamed Salah,” a statement on the club's website announced.
“The move is subject to the Egyptian international agreeing personal terms and completing a medical examination.”
Providing the deal, reported to be worth Â£10 million, is wrapped up quickly, Salah could make his debut in Sunday's FA Cup fourth round tie against Stoke at Stamford Bridge.
Salah, compared in some quarters to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, will become Chelsea's third signing of the January transfer window following the arrivals of Bertrand Traore and Nemanja Matic.
Mourinho decided to move for Salah after being impressed by his performances for Basel in two victories over Chelsea in this season's Champions League group stages
Salah scored in three of the Swiss side's four recent meetings with Chelsea -- a goal in each of this season's Group E Champions League wins and also netting in the second leg of last term's Europa League semi-final when the Blues were managed by Rafael Benitez.
His arrival will offset the imminent departure of Mata, Chelsea's player of the year in his two seasons since joining from Valencia.
Mata has struggled to cope with Mourinho's demands for a greater work ethic, with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian favoured in the three attacking positions behind a lone centre forward.
He has completed just one of the last five games he started and last featured on New Year's Day at Southampton, where he reacted angrily to his substitution early in the second half.
United have reportedly made a club record bid of £37 million for Mata and he is expected to join the Premier League champions in the next few days.
Salah joined Basel in 2012 from Egyptian Premier League side El Mokawloon after impressing the Swiss side during their friendly against Egypt's Under-23 side. – AFP