Moses will fight Zappacosta for starting role

In years gone by, Victor Moses would be fearing for his place at Chelsea right now.

Chelsea spent all summer looking to buy another right wing-back — Moses’ current position — but only succeeded when they acquired Davide Zappacosta from Torino for £23million on deadline day.

Zappacosta is a player whom Chelsea coach Antonio Conte knows well. He picked the 25-year-old in Italy’s initial squad for Euro 2016, although the player did not make the final cut.

Conte has not brought his countryman to Stamford Bridge to simply make up the numbers. Only Juventus star Alex Sandro, a player Conte also wanted for a similar role on the left flank, has made more accurate crosses as a defender from open play in Serie A than Zappacosta since the start of 2016.

But Moses is not fazed one bit and told Standard Sport: “I am ready for the competition. We needed more players, to be honest. We have a lot of games to play this season. You can’t expect to play 60 games or so. I’m ready to take on anyone that is coming here. I just want to play my football.”

Zappacosta may have some kind of relationship with Conte already, but the strength of Moses’ bond with his manager will be hard to break.

The 26-year-old still feels a debt of gratitude to the man who made him a regular in the senior side.

Chelsea bought Moses from Wigan for £9m in 2012, but after a promising debut campaign as a squad player, he was loaned out to Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham in successive seasons.

Few thought Moses would be given an opportunity last term, either, but he ended up being one of the biggest surprises in Chelsea’s title-winning story.

Not only was he an ever-present once Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation, but Moses impressed in what was an alien position for him.

The trust Conte showed in him provides the former Crystal Palace trainee with the motivation to push himself to the limit every week.

“My game has changed and it’s all down to the manager,” he said. “He gave me the confidence to play in the position.

“I’m enjoying my football and I just want to say thanks to him, really. It is always good for a player when a manager believes in you.

“It gives you the belief to go out on the pitch and express yourself. I just want to pay him back and do my best to help the team.

“I feel like I belong. After last season, I feel a lot more comfortable now. I’m home, I’m playing for my club now.”

Not everything went smoothly for Moses during the 2016-17 campaign. Indeed, his final appearance could not have gone any worse.

It was bad enough that Chelsea missed out on the chance of winning the Double — losing 2-1 to Arsenal in the FA Cup Final — but Moses took a lot of the blame after being sent off for two yellow card offences, the second of which was for diving in the penalty area.

“That’s football,” he replied, when first asked about how he coped with the fallout from the incident. “We won the League and then played the FA Cup Final. Getting sent off? Things like that happen.

“You just have to get away from it for a while. I have moved on from that now and am concentrating on this season. What happened last season is in the past. I forget about the past and have moved on to the future.”

Given that Tottenham felt aggrieved at the manner in which Moses won a penalty in the Cup semi-final a month earlier, albeit assisted by a clumsy tackle by Heung-min Son, there is a danger that Moses could be getting a reputation for simulation.

But referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to send him off in the Final seems to have led to a change of thinking from the former winger.

“I have definitely learned from it,” he said. “In football you have to learn from everything, but everyone makes mistakes. I’m not the only one that has made a mistake.”

Given Zappacosta has been training with his team-mates for only a few days, Moses should start at Leicester when the club’s League campaign resumes tomorrow, following the international break.

The damage caused by Chelsea’s opening-day defeat to Burnley was repaired before the hiatus, with victories over Spurs and Everton.

Still, with the club returning to Champions League next week after a year’s absence, there are many challenges to come.

“It’s a different test but we are looking forward to it,” Moses said. “We missed out on the Champions League last season but we are back in it now. We have a strong team and will keep doing the best we can in all the competitions.

“We are happy with the way the season has started, especially after what happened in the first game, when we had two players sent off. Apart from that, everything else is fine.

“We are enjoying our football. We beat Spurs and Everton and that has been massive for us.”

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