Moses the odd man out as Chelsea rollercoaster goes full circle

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The Nigerian played a pivotal role in the Blues' title triumph under Antonio Conte but a change in coach, and formation, has left him on the fringes

Footballing clichés dictate that the arrival of a new manager means a clean slate for every player on the club's books.

This is generally considered to be a good thing, with the events of the past swept under the carpet as attention shifts to the present and future.

For those who have been out of favour, this can come as welcome relief.

Paths to the first team which had previously been blocked off, for whatever reason, are suddenly cleared as they are welcomed back into the fold with open arms.

As one door opens, though, another can just as easily be closed.

The slate, therefore, is seemingly a reversible piece of apparatus which can be considered a blessing for some and a curse for others.

Take Chelsea, for example, and the events of the summer just gone. With Antonio Conte ushered out the exit, the arrival of Maurizio Sarri has seen another new dawn welcomed in at Stamford Bridge.

For some, such as David Luiz, the switch from one Italian coach to another has provided a new lease of life, with the Brazilian brought back in from the wilderness he had been wandering towards at the end of 2017-18.

Change has not been a good thing for everybody, though, with a tactical tweak leaving previously key men in the shadows.

Victor Moses 9 Premier League minutes

Victor Moses could be the most unfortunate of the odd men out, with the Nigerian having seen a rollercoaster ride with the Blues go full circle.

Back in 2012, his signing was deemed an attempt to help Chelsea fill home-grown quotas and just 12 Premier League starts were handed to the tricky winger during his debut campaign.

Much of the next three seasons would then be spent away from Stamford Bridge, with Moses forming part of a much-maligned loan army as he took in spells with Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham.

It was difficult at that stage to see a long-term future in west London.

Everything changed, though, in 2016 when Conte inherited the Chelsea reins, with a 3-5-2 system requiring somebody to slot in at right wing-back.

Moses was the man for the job and completed a remarkable turnaround by ending his first season back at the Bridge as a Premier League champion.

He was to remain a regular in 2017-18, too, but the tables have suddenly turned on the 27-year-old.

Sarri is favouring four at the back and three destructive options across midfield, with Moses not an obvious choice to fill any of those roles.

A more attacking post would be a natural fit, with the new man at the Blues helm admitting that he sees the former Wigan man in a wide berth.

Sarri has said: “He changed the position in the pitch. Now we are trying to let him play like a winger. So, we changed the position and in the new position I think he needs to improve.”

Maurizio Sarri Victor Moses Chelsea must improve

Hardly a glowing reference and one which goes some way to explaining why Moses has seen just nine minutes of Premier League football season – failing to even make the bench for Chelsea’s last two outings.

This is not how the story was supposed to play out.

After helping the Blues to restore domestic dominance under Conte, Moses committed to a contract extension through to 2021.

Then, after gracing the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he decided to announce his international retirement after earning 37 caps for Nigeria, saying: "I have experienced some of the best moments of my life wearing the Super Eagles shirt and have memories with me that will last a lifetime.

"However, I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on my club career and young family, as well as to allow the next generation the opportunity to step up and to flourish.”

While paving the way for others to flourish, Moses is now floundering.

Marcos Alonso, his fellow wing-back on the opposite flank under Conte, continues to impress for the Blues, as he was previously a defender given license to get forward.

Moses cannot as easily go the other way and rein in his attacking instincts to compete with Cesar Azpilicueta for right-back duties.

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He also faces stiff competition for a wide role, with Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro all ahead of him in the pecking order.

Moses, therefore, finds himself back where he started.

It has been some ride to this point – one which has lifted him to the very top of the English game – but it could soon be time to get off unless another one of those fabled slates comes along.

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