By Ed Dove
This is the summer of Van Persie – of the long, the drawn-out, the duplicitous; it is the summer of Modric – promises claimed and broken, and foreign dreams in golden lands; it is the summer of Zlatan - of the exotic meeting l’exotique, and bona fide box office on the Champs-Élysées.
Comparatively, Victor Moses’ protracted move from Wigan to Chelsea has slipped under the radar, but it is a narrative followed acutely by Nigerians everywhere. After pledging loyalty to the Super Eagles, and impressing in his three appearances to date, all in Nigeria are hoping for the best for their latest attacking star.
But what is best for the boy?
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan certainly doesn’t believe the answer to be Chelsea. While hesitant to let his club’s brightest star leave, Whelan has conceded that if the price is right, then the youngster will be off. The initial asking price was £10 million, but that has gently dropped in the face of Chelsea obstinacy, and at the time of writing, a fee of £8.5 million looks likely to be settled upon.
This was always to be a summer (and a season) of transition for Chelsea. With Didier Drogba leaving along with Kalou and Bosingwa, new boss Roberto Di Matteo was charged with renewing and replenishing the squad with fresh talent; lowering the average age, and building a Chelsea that could compete comprehensively in the future.
While André Villas-Boas appears to have failed with a similar remit a year ago, Di Matteo has encouraged, if not inspired Chelsea supporters with a crop of exciting, young signings. Marko Marin’s move from Bremen was confirmed at the end of April, Eden Hazard joined on the 4th of June, and Brazil’s Olympic star Oscar signed on the 26th of July – a triad of young attackers that are primed to set the league alight, and threaten to trouble the game’s upper echelons for years to come.
Moses | Must think hard about his chances to excel at Stamford Bridge
The club are assembling an ineffable stable of young talent, but the question begs to be asked: Where and how do all of these young prospects fit into the ‘master plan’?
Don’t forget, Chelsea already have the sumptuous talents of Juan Mata, already established after a fairly impressive debut season, Daniel Sturridge, who shone for the early half of the year, but fell out of favour with Di Matteo, and will be looking to make up for lost ground, as well as the likes of Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda, still knocking around, and still hoping to contribute towards the goals this campaign.
This is without even beginning to consider the man who will likely spearhead the aforementioned. Fernando Torres has endured a well-documented torrid spell since moving to West London, but fans are hoping that maybe, just maybe, the dual successes of the Champions League and the European Championship will spur the Spaniard ‘back to his best’ this year.
Time will tell, and Chelsea fans also hope that it will allow Romelu Lukaku, so devastating in Belgium, so anonymous in England, to prove that he can be more than just a statuesque figure, that he can be the goal machine he was previously, and that one day, fingers crossed, the parallels with Drogba will be more than just optimism and aspiration.
Quite where Victor Moses fits into this myriad of identities is, for the time being, a mystery. While Chelsea are often bated for not having a glorious history, they do have quite a marvellous track record of pillaging and spurning young talent from those around them.
Haven’t we seen this kind of thing before?
Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker stagnated at the club, while the shadowy embers and faded promise of Shaun Wright-Phillips’s career lend credence to Whelan’s beseeching. Perhaps he is right, perhaps a few more years under the studied tutelage of Roberto Martinez, and a little while longer plying his trade in the provinces may stand Moses in a better stead to one day capitalise on his undoubted talent.
Still, it is encouraging to see Nigerians playing at the top levels of club competition. It will be, momentarily at least, exciting to see a Super Eagle in the blue of one of the country’s best, playing for the European Champions no less, and training daily alongside the international stars that populate the Chelsea dressing room.
Here is a player with untapped potential, one whose pace, strength, and technical ability are outstanding among those of his age group. Maybe it is for the best that he is able to cultivate and perfect that talent in the challenging atmosphere of Chelsea, being instructed by the world’s finest, and learning first hand how to improve the poor on-field decision making which is perhaps his only glaring weakness.
Gael Kakuta | Still struggling to make a name at Chelsea
Chelsea’s number 31 at the moment is a young Frenchman, the young Gaël Kakuta. The club had hoped that by now, by his twenty first birthday, he would be known worldwide as one of the planet’s most exciting talents. They had hoped that he would be famous for more than just his arrival at Chelsea, when club and player apparently broke rules aplenty to broker the deal. Chelsea hoped that the boy once described as ‘a phenomenon’, and hand picked by Drogba as his ‘protégé’, would one day emerge from those murky origins and stake his claim at the West London club.
Kakuta debuted back in September 2009, back when Ancelotti was at the helm, as his ‘all-conquering’ pre-slump-self. He wowed fans with his trickery, his skill, and his determination…but little has been heard of him since. Loan spells at Fulham and Bolton didn’t quite deliver, and Kakuta finds himself back at Chelsea, back in the reserves, back on the bench.
Maybe Whelan has a point, and perhaps Moses ought to think twice before any deal is done.