Chelsea’s slow start to the season has proved to be the accelerant to a flurry of transfer activity within the last few days.
First, the transfer of Abdul Rahman Baba from Augsburg was confirmed immediately following the clobbering at Manchester City (from the club’s perspective, the timing could hardly have been worse). Following that, came the announcement of Spain international Pedro Rodriguez as a Blue.
Quite apart from the drama surrounding Manchester United’s protracted negotiations for the forward – the image evoked is of the perplexed groom at the altar, and a bride bounding through the streets in silk to a sultry lover – Chelsea have acquired a champion in every sense. Pedro has won every accolade available in football, except the heart of Luis Enrique; now, it is Jose Mourinho’s jigsaw he seeks to complete.
Is Moses set to be the key casualty of Pedro's arrival?While it is widely assumed he will slide suavely into the right-sided midfield role, his presence will nonetheless force some pertinent personnel decisions. The busy-bee Willian brings the sort of bustle and work-rate that Mourinho delights in, and is surely undroppable at this point. Assuming the Brazilian takes up a central role behind the striker, this bumps the likes of Oscar and Ramires down the pecking order, sparking a domino effect with no bigger casualty than Victor Moses.
The Nigeria international could have been forgiven for thinking a cloudy spell at Stamford Bridge was starting to part. Having spent last season on loan – and impressing – at Stoke City, it appeared he had earned an audition under the watchful eyes of the Chelsea management.
He seized the chance with open arms, starring during the Blues’ preseason tour of the USA and, even more remarkable, pleasing his notoriously surly boss.
“Victor is strong, he is experienced,” Mourinho gushed, “he is fast, he is aggressive. He needs to learn to play with us obviously, but I am happy [with him].”
However, his resolve to retain the 24-year-old has surely been doused within a month. He began the season as first option off the bench on either flank, but the arrival of Pedro sees his odds lengthen significantly.
It is interesting to see whether this latest move opens up the possibility of a loan deal for Moses in the final days of the transfer window. Mourinho made no secret of his desire to keep Moses in the side, but is unlikely to rebuff any further advances at this point. Essentially, he has enough options to double up all across the forward without involving the speedy winger—bad news considering the Special One’s aversion to excessive rotation.
The alternative is to stick around and try to prove his worth: a romantic notion, no doubt. Really though, with his peak around the corner, a bit-part role is really the last thing the former Wigan Athletic man needs at the moment.
There should be no shortage of suitors willing to take him on for the season; Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham and Everton are repeatedly linked—the latter unsurprising considering his relationship with Toffees boss Roberto Martinez.
Could Everton, West Ham or Spurs be set to benefit indirectly from Pedro's arrival?Indeed, it may be the only way for the winger to force his way back into the international fold. His blistering impact at the 2013 Afcon is something of a distant memory now, following repeated injuries and a sharp decline in form. He was part of the Super Eagles team at last year’s World Cup and largely underwhelmed in his two appearances in Brazil, but has not pulled on green and white since.
Now, with Sunday Oliseh at the helm of the team, there is an emphasis on starting over, turning a new page. If Moses wants to be a part of Oliseh’s book, he may very well have to start a new chapter in his career.
In truth, 24 may not be a very encouraging age to be going out on loan; if nothing else, it’s a tacit admission that his move to Chelsea has been a bust so far.
Pedro’s arrival is the starkest signal yet: his days at Stamford Bridge may very well be numbered.
The 11th Commandment, Moses? Run!