Is Victor Moses finished at Chelsea?
Christopher Johnson, CC BY-SA 2.0
Victor Moses wasn’t even in the matchday squad as Chelsea played out a goalless draw with Everton over the weekend. It's the eighth time he’s been left out in the Premier League by Maurizio Sarri. The 27-year-old has grown accustomed to being frozen out under one manager and re-introduced to the side under their successor, but Sarri has changed many things at Chelsea, possibly including the revolving door for managers. Moses needs to think long and hard about his Stamford Bridge future.
Conte most influential
Chelsea’s penchant to stockpile players in the reserve side means it’s not an achievement to rack up six years at the club but Moses making well over 100 appearances certainly deserves a mention. Gary Cahill is the only first-team player to have been at Chelsea longer than Moses.
The Nigerian international was signed from Wigan Athletic in 2012. In his 128 appearances, he's scored 18 goals and made 13 assists. He’s played under different five managers [Sarri, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez and Roberto Di Matteo]. Conte exerted the biggest impact on his career.
Moses spent the best part of three full seasons out on loan between 2013 and 2016 [Liverpool in 2013/14, Stoke City 14/15, West Ham 15/16), before becoming a regular at right wing-back upon his latest return to the Bridge. In 2016/17, he made 34 league appearances as the Blues won the title in Conte’s first season. Seventy-eight of the midfielder’s 128 appearances at Chelsea came under Conte (61%).
He remained first-choice in 2017-18 but Conte left this summer following a pitiful title defence. Arri came in and found no use for the Nigerian.
Low down Sarri’s pecking order
Under Sarri, Moses has made just two starts in all competitions, one the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City in early August. Since then, he’s featured in only two Premier League games from the bench, two Europa League games from the bench and one EFL Cup outing that he started.
Sarri warned Moses in August that his performance levels weren’t good enough. He reiterated his criticism in November. The midfielder hasn’t made Chelsea’s matchday squad since September. Clearly, he isn't meeting his manager’s standards.
The formational change away from the back-three hurts Moses' chances. Cesar Azpilicueta is a regular at right-back, Davide Zappacosta the back-up. Not a natural fullback by trade, he's behind both in the food line. With Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro all producing, he isn't likely to see time in an advanced role, either.
It's the playing style rather than any lack of commitment. Moses retired from international football to further his club career. Things just haven’t worked out.
If game time continues to elude Moses, a loan move away looks like the most viable January option. A permanent deal is more difficult in the winter transfer window.
Former side Crystal Palace, flirting with a relegation battle, could jump at the chance to bring the winger back to Selhurst Park. They’ve struggled for goals this season, with eight in 12 games. Southampton might also consider new blood. Nathan Redmond [one goal in his last 46 league games], Manolo Gabbiadini [six in 51 games across all competitions] and Shane Long [five in 64 PL games] have done even less for Mark Hughes.
Time will tell for Moses, whether to stay and fight or move to greener pastures but all the evidence suggests this isn't a fight he can win.