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At West Ham, Victor Moses dribbles self into another cul-de-sac

Victor Moses started for West Ham against Liverpool in the FA Cup but was taken off in the second half — because he was largely ineffective — for Michael Antonio. In the next match at home to Aston Villa, Antonio started, and that has been the story of all his loan stints.

Moses is a talented footballer no doubt, but he has not found a home, a club where he can be comfortable and to thrive!

So what has happened to one of Nigeria’s best talents? He had the [mis]fortune of being bought by Chelsea in 2012 and since then he has played for four different clubs. That may not strike you as being abnormal but he has had to play under four different managers, four different thought patterns [and that is not including the Super Eagles] and four different philosophies.

Even for a genius, these times could become confusing with the brain trying to concoct a way of escape.

The journey for Moses started with Crystal palace from where he moved to Wigan and then to Chelsea, where he enjoyed only one season – in 2012/13 season in which he won the Europa League with the Blues.

From then on, it has been one loan stint after another. He was first loaned to Liverpool, then to Stoke City and his current stint with West Ham.

But there has been a concurrent theme in all these loan stints – a player that was not accorded playing time before he gets to the club suddenly “grows” up and generally usurps the Nigerian’s role – making his stay unsuccessful and untenable.

At Liverpool, it was Raheem Sterling

“It’s a unique opportunity for him; he’s leaving a very good club, that has been successful, and he’s coming to one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“There are not many players that get a chance to do that. He’s coming here to prove himself.”

That was former Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, on acquiring Moses on loan in 2013 but by the end of the season, the Nigerian had managed just 644 league minutes and scored a solitary goal.

Sterling had to raise his game to get back in the team and when he did, he left Moses in the fog. The Nigerian was unable to get a look-in as Sterling became an England starter and developed a great combination with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

At the end of that season, it was time for Moses to pack up and look for another loan home. Stoke City welcomed him as their ‘messiah’.

At Stoke City, it was Marko Arnautovic

After the unforgettable time at Anfield, he moved to the Britannia to team up with Mark Hughes and Stoke City. And he was their best player by a country mile playing on the left flank of the attack but the former occupant of that position, Austrian enigma, Marko Arnautovic, suddenly grew up and then the injury curse struck. Before his rehabilitation was complete, Arnautovic had a stranglehold on the position with brilliant performances capped with goals. The Austrian just raised the level of his game because of the quality that Moses showed and has taken it a notch higher this present with spectacular goals to show.

Moses, maybe understanding this decided not to continue at the Britannia, hopping on to the Slaven Bilic train at West Ham.

Now at West Ham, Michail Antonio has emerged…

At the beginning of the season, West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic, could not help but gush at the capture of the Nigeria international. “Victor Moses is a class player. He hasn’t had continuity at one club. He didn’t make it at Chelsea, maybe he didn’t make it at Liverpool – which is hard.

“But last year at Stoke he was one of their best players. His first game was really good for us. His composure, his linking play and his work rate,” he said.

Moses scored in the away victory over Manchester City last September as West Ham went on a decimating away run against the big sides but then came the injury and Antonio stepped into the breach and has become a firm fan favourite with his work ethic and return on goals. One example was the goal he scored against Liverpool at Upton Park – where he chased Liverpool’s left back to his corner flag, rescue the ball [it should have been a foul] before he raced up field to head in a cross – all within two minutes.

In all of these, we must not forget another important factor that has not helped him to settle down anywhere else is that he is too frequently injured, which is not helping him achieve what his tremendous abilities need to grow.

“For Victor [Moses] it is very simple,” said Rodgers at the time of the loan.

“He wants to remain at a big club, whether it is Chelsea or Liverpool. There is no bigger motivation than that. When you sample the life of the big institutions like Liverpool then there’s not many that want to leave.”
But Moses has had to tamper down his ambition to play for a “big club” as he moved to Stoke City and now at West Ham with his next destination unknown.

His “Hide and Seek” with the Super Eagles is also not helping him, even though his position seems to have been taken by the emergence of Moses Simon, whose return of goals just like Antonio is of a greater percentage than for the former England youth teamer.

The future does not look too good for the skillful forward but he still has the ability in his boots to change all this. Like they say form is temporary and class is permanent but at 25, time and opportunity are running out.

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