It is universally known how important wing-backs are in a back three formation. Chelsea’s defensive three has been the story of the Premier League season and it has seen them fail to win only three matches while using it. The title is as good as on its way to Stamford Bridge, such has been the unstoppable success of Antonio Conte’s side.
Of all the players to have turned their careers around this season, the most notable has been Victor Moses. From perennial loanee to vital cog in a title winning side, Moses is close to completing a glorious comeback. Indifferent spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham made it seem as though the Nigerian was destined for a permanent move away from Chelsea, but Conte has found a role for him as a right wing-back and it has brought the best football out of him.
As a winger for the majority of his career, it has taken fair adaptation. His instincts to attack have been a great asset for the West London club, but it has equally left them exposed at times. The unparalleled Cesar Azpilicueta has allowed Moses to gallivant forward with his pace and exceptional one-on-one defending compensating for Moses’ lack of defensive instincts.
A dip in form during the second half of the season has, however, left his position in the Chelsea side under a little threat. Defensively caught out a little too often and perhaps suffering from fatigue after an arduous campaign of explosive running up and down the flank, Moses has retained his spot in the side largely because Conte has little other choice at this point. Additions to the squad are a guarantee this summer and the right wing-back berth is one that will likely have millions thrown at it.
One name that will be banded around European gossip columns for the foreseeable future is Djibril Sidibe. Playing for the much-fancied AS Monaco, he has caught the eye of many around Europe and could benefit from playing in a position that seems lacking in quality across the top leagues at the moment.
Unlike Moses, Sidibe is a right-back by trade. Playing in a back four for Monaco – albeit in a very attacking team that gives him the freedom to overlap at will – he is not currently charged with quite the same attacking task as Moses. At Chelsea, the Nigerian has to provide all the width for his team, whereas Sidibe is largely there to enable Bernardo Silva to drift centrally but will occasionally be joined on the flank by the Portuguese international.
As a result of his role at Monaco, Sidibe naturally records better defensive numbers than Moses. Some of this is down to the positions each player finds themselves in, some of it is simply the difference between two players who have dissimilar skillsets. When it comes to their work with the ball at their feet, however, Moses often comes out on top. He completes comfortably over 65% of his take ons, while Sidibe registers below 40%. Moses’ winger history makes him a more diverse threat for Chelsea in the final third, whereas Sidibe would be able to give Chelsea greater defensive security.
If Chelsea are to go into next season with two players set up to play the role, Sidibe and Moses would be a perfect pairing. Sidibe can, if required, fill in on the left side of Chelsea’s midfield four, too. He is not a like-for-like alternative to Chelsea’s former Wigan man, but even better than that, he would enable Conte to adapt his team’s approach.
There are few players in Europe as ideal for the current Chelsea squad as Djibril Sidibe. He won’t come cheaply, but it will be worth it for a Chelsea team that will see their squad tested infinitely more next season.