The next 18 months will be crucial for Charly Musonda
Twenty-one-year-old Belgian youngster, Charly Musonda Jr, has the stature and physique to leave people questioning his true age. The Chelsea player is widely recognized as a top prospect. It's in his DNA. Charly senior played in America, Belgium, and the Bundesliga, as well as the Zambian national and Olympic squads. Junior only needs regular playing time to aid his development. Antonio Conte has used him sparingly. With no room in the Blues squad for the youngster, he has been loaned out to Celtic for the next 18 months.
The Scottish giant is coached by Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman is known to take on young players and transform them into difference makers. Musonda had long been lined up by Rodgers. The Belgian has already arrived in Glasgow, eager to get his career on track.
His last act in a Chelsea shirt was to provide a sublime assist for Victor Moses in the 4-0 victory over Brighton at the AMEX stadium. Musonda picked up a pass on the edge of the centre circle. Looking up, he made an instant cross-field pass, leaving Moses in space to close out the day's scoring. It was a moment of brilliance all too rare for the player while in a Chelsea shirt. Under Rodgers, he will have the opportunity to deliver far more.
The former Liverpool and Swansea boss is famed for his handling of young players. Names such as Raheem Sterling, Moussa Dembele, Kieran Tierney and Patrick Roberts all profited from his stewardship. Musonda will be looking to join that esteemed company. He is an attacking midfielder who can play anywhere across the front three.
People who have seen him play for the Stamford Bridge youth teams speak of a player supremely gifted but needing a consistent run of matches to mature. Musonda was loaned to Real Betis last season. He played well enough before being brought back by the club to provide cover following Oscar's sale last January. The player is highly thought of at Chelsea. Many fans hope he becomes another Andreas Christensen, returning after a successful loan spell to force his way into the first team.
He can take a cue from the Dane by learning everything he can under Rodgers, playing in the Champions League, and returning a much better player. The fact Rodgers has sought his services for so long will work in his favour. There is no question he will play. That said, he must still work hard to impress the Northern Irishman, who is building something special at Celtic Park. If Rodgers dropped Mario Balotelli at Chelsea, he'll brook no foolishness from his latest project.
While Musonda’s talent is not in doubt, his physique has been the issue. He looks too slight to hold off defenders and keep the ball. Stronger players have easily knocked him off the ball. Chelsea will be monitoring his progress at Celtic, but the buck stops with the youngster. If he fails with the Bhoys, his aspirations of playing for the Blues will be a pipe dream.
He gained social media attention earlier in the season for complaining about a lack of first team football at Stamford Bridge. The Blues let it slide and promptly gave him a new contract. It showed trust on their part. It is time to repay that trust in Scotland. Eighteen months is a long time in football. Musonda will be wise to make full use of his year-and-a-half.