Chelsea stole a march on its rivals last season by cruising to the Premier League title almost unhindered. All thanks to Conte’s tactical genius of a switch in formation and remarkable form shown by his players. The Blues won matches on a tear. Players who were abysmal during 2015/16 regained their form almost spectacularly. One of those reborn was Victor Moses, with the winger arguably playing the best football in his career.
As a right-wing-back.
However, his position in Conte’s starting XI for next term could come under serious threat. The Italian manager is said to be looking for a right-wing-back that’s more of a defender by convention, rather than improvisation.
So which players can prove to be an upgrade on the Nigerian international?
The Brazilian is probably not a name that pops up in the Rumour Mills, but he very much should be.
The Roma right-back/wing-back wasn’t particularly at his best last season, assisting just twice and scoring 2 goals in 30 Serie A appearances. However, his skill-sets tick the box as far as being an upgrade on Victor Moses goes.
Peres’ pace and constant ability to burst down the wing is noticeable, while his 5-star dribbling skills make him leave players for dead almost every time.
During 2015/16, the 27-year-old completed the most dribbles (83) and had the most shots on target (15) out of all defenders, across all of Europe’s top five leagues.
The former Torino player is also superb in crossing and playing through balls. These are key areas Moses struggled in last season. Peres’ ability to retain the ball almost by nature will also appeal to Conte.
This past January, rumours were rife with reports that Conte was vehemently seeking to acquire Michail Antonio of West Ham. However, it is noticeable how the rumours have all but stopped this summer.
It could pose a curious problem with the Chelsea fans’ “Antonio” chant, but otherwise, the transfer looks as if it was written in the stars.
Hammers fans have seen their star fill in as a right-back, a right winger, and even as a right-wing-back. And it is safe to say that he has done brilliantly.
The Hammer of the Year ended this past season with 9 goals, admirable for someone playing mostly as a defender.
Antonio’s versatility saw Bilic deploy him in various positions last term, but on the few occasions (9) he played at right wing-back, he was out of this world, scoring twice, as well as garnering three assists (all came in one game against Crystal Palace, strangely enough).
Victor Moses’ 3 goals and 2 assists aren’t bad for someone debuting in a new role. But Antonio’s numbers give the impression of a higher class. His superior attacking skills, combined with an urgency to get back, could make him the next big Hammers star to shine at SW6 following Frank Lampard.
Pereira was a big reason why Nice finished 3rd in Ligue 1 last season. It was honestly surprising to see him miss out on Portugal’s Confederations Cup squad after such an impressive campaign.
With his 2-season loan from Porto over, he will look to begin a new chapter in his life. And if this past season is any evidence, it will be exciting indeed to closely follow the versatile full-back. He has started in as many as five different positions at Nice in 2016/17 alone.
Pereira scored twice and assisted 4 league goals last term. His strengths include dribbling, passing, holding onto the ball, aerial duels and tackling. He can probably play anywhere in a back four if given proper tutelage.
The right-back created 28 chances, averaged 87% pass accuracy and 50% shot accuracy/duels won in just 24 games – numbers better than Victor Moses’ ratio in 34 games. While we could argue day-and-night on whether he’s better than the Nigerian, Chelsea could substantially benefit from having a healthy competition between the two.