Chelsea only made their move for Mohamed Salah when it became clear Juan Mata wanted to move on, says Jose Mourinho.
The club have hijacked Liverpool's interest in the Egyptian winger and are flying out to Switzerland to give the FC Basel player a medical.
But no moves were made ahead of this week's approach, according to the Chelsea boss.
“It was a surprise for us that Juan was leaving,” said Mourinho.
“We were not prepared to make a bid to replace Juan in the squad, so everything happened very very fast. We had to see what could be good options for us.
“With Salah we started from zero. There were no contacts. The first step was an agreement with the club [Basel]. We have to travel to Switzerland for the medical.
"I don't know what Liverpool did before us. But we are confident we will get him. At this moment, we know the player wants to come, but now it's about his terms and the medical. Hopefully he comes.”
Speaking of the 21-year-old's qualities, Mourinho said: “I like the fact he can play the same way our other attacking players do – with adaptability to play right left or behind a striker as a no 10.
“He's young like our players from that area are. He's fast, he's creative and looks to have the humble personality to work for the team and adapt to a new life.
“Willian needed two or three months to become comfortable with the way we play, but with him, Andre Schurrle and Oscar, we will be fine. We bring in a young player with great potential.”