How can Leicester City get the best from Ahmed Musa?
Ahmed Musa has been a ghost at Leicester City. The Nigeria international vanished more often than not in this season's first stanza. If not for Russia, there still wouldn't be any trace of him. Six months at CSKA Moscow proved vital. Form with the Super Eagles likewise.
There are two kinds of player. Those in everyone's good books. And those who are widely despised. The latter have themselves to blame. They often arrive at new clubs with much hype, only to underwhelm on the pitch.
On some occasions, however, it isn't their doing. Other factors play a part. Language. Climate. Training. Diet. Even the most successful players have grappled with those issues. Yet nothing destroys confidence as a manager's impatience and distrust. Ask Anthony Martial.
In Musa's case, he was a demigod in Russia. His name was written in gold all over Moscow's streets. Maybe not the entire capital, but at least Red Blue military dominated region. Myths even claim president Vladimir Putin was envious. He feared the Nigerian could beat him for pace in a contest.
Musa joined CSKA from VVV Venlo without much fanfare in 2012. The story changed four years later. He became popular for electric acceleration and high-speed dribbling. Standing at 5'7'' tall with a skinny frame, long legs, the Jos-born attacker proved prolific in front of goal. His 61 strikes puts him fifth on CSKA's all-time scoring list.
When Leicester broke their transfer record to lure Musa, his magic was expected to arrive as well. It didn't. Despite starting strongly, he drifted into the late substitute role - largely without impact - before entering the dreaded world of an unused bench-warmer. Soon after, he discovered new friends in the academy.
After a disastrous 18 months at the King Power, Musa returned to Moscow in search of forgotten mojo. He received extra. As his pace, energy and optimism fortified, the goals dripped uncontrollably. He bagged seven in only 16 appearances, including braces against both Krasnodar and Arsenal Tula.
Musa's return to form came at the perfect time with the World Cup on the horizon. No longer a regular starter for Nigeria, he was his country's second-most experienced squad member in Russia. The 25-year-old showed his mettle when given an opportunity, hitting a beautiful double in the victory over Iceland. Leicester were quick to stake a claim.
Superior in Russia?
Musa's terrific form for both CSKA and the Super Eagles isn't rocket science. He was better motivated, made to feel at home without the pressure of a huge outlay. The Nigerian knew his two bosses, Viktor Goncharenko and Gernot Rohr, had full faith in him.
That aside, a slight tactical tweak could work in Musa's favour at Leicester. He was deployed as CSKA's lone frontman, supported by Aleksandr Golovin and Alan Dzagoev. That would be a big ask with the Foxes, especially considering Jamie Vardy's presence. However, paring the two could provide the solution. Both are extremely fast, as well as clinical. Musa's desire to run at opponents often isolates them, forcing into mistakes. He proved deadly through the middle for Nigeria in the World Cup.
Claude Puel must change his perception. The Frenchman doesn't recognize Musa is Leicester's ideal striker:
He’s a good player with quality. For me he’s not a striker, he’s a winger who can play on the left or right. He can attack space, has good penetration but there’s an imbalance in competition with (Marc) Albrighton, (Demarai) Gray and (Riyad) Mahrez.
Just give Musa a chance Monsieur Puel. He sure deserves one.