Pedro described Victor Moses as Chelsea’s “best” and most “complete” player back in November. Antonio Conte labelled the Nigeria international “fantastic” last week.
Mark Noble, who played alongside Moses during the latter’s loan spell at West Ham last season, said “you cannot stop” the Chelsea man on his day – insisting the 26-year-old is “one of the best” around.
When one looks back over the past eight months it’s easy to see why Moses has received such heavy praise, if relatively little limelight, at Chelsea this season.
The former Crystal Palace man has been one of the biggest success stories of Conte’s stewardship. From starting the campaign as a substitute to seizing the right wing-back role and making it his own, Moses has turned his career around at Stamford Bridge.
Not that he didn’t try before. Moses arrived from Wigan in 2012 but, after just a single season with the Blues under interim boss Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho’s return a year later appeared to spell the end.
Three successive loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham followed before a combination of chance, Conte’s vision and Moses’ own hard work helped him finally break into the Chelsea team. The new manager was immediately given the chance to see Moses up close during Chelsea’s pre-season tour of Austria and the US – which left the Italian confident the midfielder could play in an unfamiliar wing-back role.
“When I arrived at Chelsea, I asked the club to see Moses in pre-season. I knew him very well and his reputation,” Conte said. “He played a good game as a winger when we played the 4-2-4. He is a very good player. Now he is playing wing-back and it’s fantastic for us because he has great attention in the defensive situation and can go one against one in attack. [Marcos] Alonso always played this role but Moses is a winger. His education is fantastic. I’m pleased for him.”
Conte’s arrival at Chelsea coupled with the former Juventus manager’s vision and belief undoubtedly played a role in the Nigerian being given his long-awaited chance to represent the Blues. The rest was down to Moses’ hard work. When Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation for the trip to Hull in October, Moses was asked to occupy the right wing-back position – a role he had never played in before. He impressed in the 2-0 victory at the KCOM Stadium and that earned the Nigeria international a start against champions Leicester City two weeks later.
A goal soon followed, his first in the league for Chelsea in almost four years, before being named man of the match for his showing in the 1-0 victory at Middlesbrough, scoring the winning strike to down then-undefeated Tottenham and being named PFA Fans’ Premier League Player of the Month for November in a whirlwind two months.
“I’ve never dreamed of playing in this position in my life, but I’m enjoying it and I think it’s probably one of the best positions, to be honest,” Moses said recently.
“The more games I’m playing there, the more I’m improving.” It is this can-do attitude, along with his ability to drive attacks forward but track back and defend too, that has helped Moses not just break into Conte’s starting line-up but keep his place in the team too.
The Nigerian epitomises what Conte wants from his players: hard work, dedication, attention to detail and an ability to carry out the Italian’s orders on the pitch. It is why Chelsea have rewarded Moses with a new two-year contract extension. Conte trusts in Moses and Moses trusts in Conte.
Chelsea know they have, like Alonso on the left flank, a player who can occupy a difficult wing-back role but do so with apparent ease. It’s why Moses appears to have a bright future ahead of him in this Chelsea side, particularly if comments from technical director Michael Emenalo are anything to go by.
“This new contract is a testament to Victor’s hard work and dedication to succeed at Chelsea and we believe he will be a big part of our future success,” he said. He might not get the praise that the likes of his teammates Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante receive every week, but as Pedro, Conte and Noble have all alluded to in the past, Moses is most certainly one of Chelsea’s stars of the season.