On the back of Leicester City winning an unexpected maiden Premier League title in 2016, Ahmed Musa’s £16 million arrival from CSKA Moscow was supposedly seen as a bargain. However fastforward a season and half and the 25-year-old has departed without ever finding his feet in the top flight.
He made 21 league apperances during the 2016-17 season of which only seven where starts, scoring two goals, while for the ongoing campaign he made no top-flight appearance and was named on the bench just once, in the Foxes' 2-1 defeat at Liverpool in December.
— Goal.com Nigeria (@GoalcomNigeria) January 30, 2018
Instead, he was thrown into the reserves team, making six apperances, scoring once and creating three assists. His only first-team appearance came in the EFL Cup second round tie against Sheffield United where he played the entire 90 minutes and scored the last goal in a 4-1 victory.
It is clear that Musa was not in the frame of the Foxes setup considering the team have gone through three managerial changes in Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare and now Claude Puel without any of them giving the Nigerian a key role. It was actually expected that Jos-born wideman would leave East Midlands last summer as he could not break the solid bond of Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez on the flanks.
Musa’s stock has fallen significantly this term, with many questioning whether the attacker would ever return to his former glories.
Returning to play for the Red-Blues again should do him some good in that he spent four fruitful years at the VEB Arena, scoring 54 goals and making 29 assists in 168 competitive games. He also won six domestic titles, demonstrating the kind of consistency in Russia that has evaded him in England.
Musa was a vital cog of the CSKA side under Leonid Slutsky, but it might be different now as the team is under the management of Viktor Goncharenko. The Belarusian tactician has employed a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 since he came in December 2016, and this should benefit Musa, who had to contend with an unfavourable 4-4-2 at Leicester.
Now, the forward has until the end of the season to make an impact at CSKA and prove that he remains a top talent. With Goncharenko regularly rotating his squad, Musa has a chance to regain his image in a familiar environment.
Musa’s move to CSKA Moscow is also timely as it will give him a chance to be in the right frame of mind for the 2018 World Cup. Despite not playing regularly for Leicester City, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has kept faith in the former Kano Pillars man, selecting him during the qualifiers and recently leaving the door open for him to make the cut for Russia.
The 64-time capped international’s experience will be needed as the Super Eagles try to navigate their way past Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in Group D. He scored a brace in the 3-2 defeat against the Albiceleste at the 2014 edition in Brazil, becoming the first player to achieve such over the South American giants at the global showpiece.
Musa’s move to CSKA Moscow might be temporary for now, and it’s unknown where he will be next season, but he’s at least back to a place that feels like home, and will savour every minute of it till the next challenge comes along.