After several loan spells under erstwhile Manager, Jose Mourinho, the arrival of Antonio Conte gave Victor Moses some respite as he enjoyed regular playing time under the Italian in his two-year stint at Stamford Bridge. With the sack of Conte, the arrival of Maurizio Sarri, regular shirt has been far and between for Moses. After the Nigerian had initially insisted that he would stay back and try to adapt to Sarri’s style of play, the 2013 AFCON winner is considering a move away from Chelsea. Kunle Adewale asks if another loan spell is looming for Moses
One of the reasons Victor Moses gave for quitting the national team was to concentrate on his club career but the objective seems to be defeated as he is finding regular playing time difficult under Chelsea new manager, Maurizio Sarri.
“I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on club career,” Moses had said while announcing his retirement from the national team.
The Blues winger has failed to impress Sarri, who arrived in the summer after replacing Antonio Conte.
Under Conte, Moses was a key player – fitting in at right wingback in his three-at-the-back system.
However, Sarri has switched the formation to 4-3-3 with Eden Hazard and Willian as his first-choice wingers.
The 27-year-old has appeared in just five matches this season, completing a full 90 minutes just once.
The former Crystal Palace star has indicated that he was looking to leave in January because of the lack of game-time. And he recently admitted he was thinking of departing the club where he came up through the academy.
He said: “Right now, it’s not a good season for me, but I have to find some way to get back on.
“How? I do not know, but it’s up to me to figure that out. But right now it looks hard. We have good results and we play super football, which only makes it harder.”
His new stand is in contrast to his earlier decision to stay back and fight for the shirt.
Speaking in an interview with Chelsea FC’s website earlier in the summer, Moses insisted he was not looking to leave the club but embrace the Italian’s methods.
“We’re looking forward to it. Obviously, we have a new manager now, he’s got a new philosophy and we’re looking good in training. We just want to work hard together as a team and make sure we understand what he wants from us and do the best we can this season.
“Chelsea is a big club. It’s a club with a great history, we’ve won loads of big trophies, and we always want to do that.
“With the players we’ve got and ability that we’ve got, we just want to keep on working hard together to make the club great and keep doing well,” he said.
After a Superlative performance for Wigan Athletic during the 2011/12 season, the coaching crew of Chelsea signed on Moses. But as a result of not having enough playing time, he was sent on a season loan to rivals, Liverpool in September 2013. He was then shipped to Stoke City and West Ham the following seasons. But with the arrival of Conte at Stamford Bridge after the sack of Mourinho, Moses found a new lease of life.
Before Conte’s arrival, Moses had not played a league game for Chelsea for more than three years but he became a key role in the former Juventus Manager’s 3-4-3 system, which was a huge turnaround for a player who, partly because of injury, started only 38 league games in the past three seasons, completing 90 minutes just 12 times.
“I played as a wing-back a lot during my career, particularly when I was younger in the mid-to-late 1990s when that system was least popular in the Premier League. I used to enjoy it because, like Moses, it suited my game. Like him, I was more of an attacker than a defender and wing-backs have the freedom to get forward when they want.
“You have to be disciplined defensively and decide when to join the attack or hold back, but you have the freedom of the touchline and the ability to impose yourself on the game far more than you can as a normal winger. By timing your runs, you can come from deep with a head of steam and burst into great positions – the sort of thing that Moses was doing when he used his power and pace to great effect,” Conte had said.
Moses admitted that he always hoped to play regularly for a big club like the Blues, but struggled to make any impact on the first team at Stamford Bridge until Conte arrived and his 3-4-3 formation has brought the best out of the 26-year-old.
“I’ve always wanted to play for this big club, it’s one of the best clubs in the world at the moment and I’m enjoying every single minute. I just want to keep on working hard and helping my teammates out,” he told Chelsea’s official website.
The arrival of another Italian at Chelsea in the summer had to change the narratives and Moses has now fallen behind in the pecking order.
This may, however, be good news for Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr as Moses would most likely need the national team as a launch-pad in his search for a new and equally high profile club in the mold of Chelsea – meaning he could consider his stand and stage a comeback to the Super Eagles.
Moses shocked soccer loving Nigerians in early August as he announced his retirement from international football after playing 37 matches and scoring 12 goals for Nigeria.
He made it known on his social media account that he will play no part wearing the green and white colours of Nigeria after he joined the national team in 2012 since switching allegiance from England to Nigeria.
“I would like to announce that after much thought I have made the decision to retire from playing international football. I have experienced some of the best moments of my life wearing the Super Eagles shirt and have memories with me that will last a lifetime. Nothing will ever compete to what it felt like to represent Nigeria on behalf of our country.
“However, I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on club career and my young family as well as to allow the next generation of Super Eagles stars the opportunity to step up and to flourish.
“We are blessed as a nation to have so many exciting young players coming through and now is their time.
“I have already spoken to the manager by telephone and would like to say thank you to him and his staff, the NFF and all of my teammates for all of their support over the years.
“Most importantly, I would like to say thank you to the Nigerian people for believing in me and supporting me over the years. It’s meant the world to me and my family and I will always be a proud Nigerian supporting the team.
“Thank you for the memories and good luck to the team for the future.”
With regular shirt at Chelsea no longer in sight, the national team might be the new option for Moses to continue playing at the top flight.