The Chelsea forward has gone from perennial loanee to key man under Antonio Conte
When Victor Moses signed for Chelsea from Wigan Athletic in 2012, not so long after Chelsea’s triumph in the Uefa Champions League final, it was indication of the player’s incredible ambition.
The hunger and drive to prove himself at a higher level could only benefit Chelsea and the Super Eagles, but while the Kaduna-born winger had a decent first season with The Blues, playing 43 games in all competitions, and finding the back of the net on 10 occasions, that tally remains his highest return in club football.
The return of Jose Mourinho in 2013 threw a spanner in the works of his development; for the next three seasons, he was shunted out on loan, unwanted by the Portuguese coach.
Loan moves to Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United proved unsuccessful as injuries and subsequently loss of form undermined the deals.
At Liverpool, even though he bagged a goal on his debut against Swansea, the form of Raheem Sterling prevented him from making more appearances, and while he eventually featured in 22 games, only nine were starts.
He returned to Chelsea, but no sooner had preseason ended than he was farmed out on loan, this time to Stoke City, and while he scored four times in the Potteries, injuries again hampered his progress.
After another brilliant preseason, he was sent out on loan to West Ham United, where he made 26 appearances.
The highlight was a goal against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium early in his stay at the club, but a hamstring injury sustained in November ruled him out for two months. Again, fitness problems had prevented Moses from having the impact he might have done.
With Mourinho in charge at Chelsea, there seemed to be no way back for Moses, and despite impressing regularly in preseason, and progress appeared to serve only to put the Nigerian back on the loan market, rather than the first team.
Under Mourinho, Moses made only one appearance—in the Community Shield loss to Arsenal in August 2015—and even that was an eight-minute cameo.
However, following the arrival of Antonio Conte, Moses has been handed a fresh opportunity to impress at Stamford Bridge, and finally has a coach who sees how to include him in his starting XI and appears to know how to get the best out of the Super Eagles attacker.
Moses has repaid the faith placed in him by the Italian manager and has responded with brilliant performances. His direct running and hard work has played him into the first team, and prompted renewed optimism about the player’s prospects in West London.
He’s rewarded Antonio Conte with three goals so far this season, with two of those coming in the Premier League against Burnley and Leicester City, and the other in the second round of the EFL Cup against Bristol Rovers.
Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 also favours Moses, as his role as a wing-back enables him stretch the play out wide and run at the defenders—his biggest strength.
This quality was evident in the win against Hull City at the KCOM Stadium, as Moses terrorized the Tigers’ defence, running at his opponents every time he had the ball, which caused panic in their ranks. It was his best performance for Chelsea.
Against Leicester on Saturday, his hard work and persistence was rewarded as he bagged his second league goal of the season and further established himself as a key man under Conte.
His adaptation to the new role has been seamless, and while sterner tests lie ahead, the signs so far demonstrate that Moses is revitalized and is enjoying his football again.
While Chelsea are immediate beneficiaries of the wideman’s resurgence, could the Super Eagles also exploit his return to prominence?