Moses Simon has enjoyed a resurgence at Nantes that has seen him reignite the spark he showed early in his career.
It has been a clean break for him following a few years of stagnancy that even a move to Levante last season could not bring round. He arrived in Spain injured and struggled to get into the XI and the wing-back role he was often given made his Spanish experience tiresome. There were a few fine performances but after just one season in Spain, it was clear Simon still had not made any progress.
So a loan deal to Nantes in France happened and the Nigerian has since built a much-needed momentum. This season so far, Simon has had a hand in 13 goals in 24 games while playing in several positions for Nantes who are just eight points away from Champions League places.
A large part of what has made Simon thrive at Nantes is the freedom he has gotten in attack.
Christian Gourcuff’s favourite 4-4-2 formation operates in a way that sees Nantes often building out from the back using three players by advancing their full-backs and inverting their wingers to unbalance opponents.
Gourcuff’s Nantes desperately lacks a goalscorer and to compensate, he has found a way to put more bodies up front. This setup has given Simon some sort of freedom to get closer to the opponents’ penalty area where he has been dangerous.
Leading the line
Something, however, was slightly different when Nantes hosted Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. The Nigerian was made to lead the line for his side and he was also impressive.
Simon didn’t see much of the ball as Paris Saint-Germain dominated possession but he still managed to create spaces for himself with his movement.
He managed to get a chance in the 41st minute, using his movement to create some space for himself in the box but he blew a good chance by blazing over with the goal at his mercy.
It was a frustrating night for him on Tuesday night, but he never stopped running around, trying to get some space.
He got his break in the 68th minute when he pounced after a mistake by Presnel Kimpembe and raced through to score.
Simon was brilliant again late on to create a chance which would have levelled the game for Nantes but Renaud Emond wasted a glorious chance after the Nigerian had set him up.
It didn’t end up to be a good night for Nantes, but Simon showed how much he has improved and gotten his career back on track.