The curious case of Charly Musonda

Type the name Charly Musonda Jr into Youtube, and you will be met by epic titles such as 'Charly Musonda Jr - Next Big Thing 2016 Skills & Dribbles |HD|', or the equally as dramatic, 'Charly Musonda Jr 2020 ● The Belgium monster | Crazy football skills and goals HD'. 

At the top of the search list, however, is a far less encouraging caption, posing the question, 'What happened to Charly Musonda?'. You may be wondering this yourself, and it took the man himself to respond to the social media rumors by posting a video on his personal Instagram channel of himself at Cobham Training Centre, going through drills and exercises alone with a member of the coaching staff. 

These cryptic clues may still appear confusing to some, but those concerned with Chelsea will be aware of the Roman tragedy that has engulfed the career of Charly Musonda Jr and that his recent upload is hopefully a signal that his disastrous series is coming to its conclusion. 

Bright Blue beginnings 

Although this particular story has largely been untold to the wider footballing community, those looking in on Chelsea will be fully aware of the array of talent that is constantly recycled through the Stamford Bridge revolving door. 

Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James are just a handful of those who have made it from the academy into the senior side, owed largely to the faith entrusted in them by Frank Lampard. For all their success this season, they were all forced to follow in another's footsteps, sent out into the loan market to gain experience. 

Which is exactly the route Musonda has been marched down, pretty much from the moment he joined from Anderlecht in 2012. After lighting up the development and youth teams, the exciting Belgian was sent out to Real Betis in January to learn his trade in men's game. 

His debut could hardly have been brighter, involving himself in the only goal of the evening against Gary Neville's disappointing Valencia outfit, deserving of the Man of the Match award, an ironic statement considering he had only just celebrated his 20th birthday. 

Musonda's purple patch continued, netting in his second start, eventually making 16 appearances as Betis finished 10th in La Liga. His loan was extended into the 2016/17 campaign, yet his stint in Spain was cut short by injury problems and was whisked back to London by the turn of the year. 

Although short-lived, his brief time at Betis brought up plenty of compliments for the emerging Musonda, earning him the glamourous comparison to fellow countrymen and Chelsea star, Eden Hazard. Not to mention the showreels now emerging across the internet...

Traveling up North as career comes down to Earth

Chelsea had enough evidence to finally promote Musonda into the peripheries of Premier League action. Antonio Conte, now into his second stint as Blues boss, handed him his moment in the spotlight, beginning a cameo role in the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal

Glimpses were mainly all the Chelsea faithful were allowed of this enigma, accumulating a handful of minutes in the league against Burnley, Crystal Palace, and Brighton & Hove Albion, alongside a 12 minute blast in the FA Cup away to Norwich City.

Conte saved his grand reveal for the Carabao Cup, giving Musonda a full match to demonstrate his ability in front of an eagerly anticipated home crowd against Nottingham Forest. He certainly lived up to expectation, netting his first senior goal in a 5-1 thumbing and gaining a further 70 minutes in the next round at Everton, in which he grabbed an assist also. 

A lighting fast couple of months draw to a close in similarly swift action, as a Northern wind swept Musonda away. Another loan move was on the horizon, with Celtic the new interested investors. 

Former Chelsea youth coach, Brendan Rodgers, was manager of the Scottish Champions and was evidently keen on rekindling his relationship with the Blues through Musonda. Unfortunately, few bridges were burnt as his spell in Scotland fizzled out entirely, Musonda playing just eight times across all competitions and returned to the Bridge before many had realised he had been transferred. 

Dutch disaster 

Perhaps aware the chances of regaining his seemingly destined place amongst Chelsea's elite were depleting by the day, the powers that be decided to move Musonda on once again to a location that has a huge affiliation with the Blues. 

Vitesse Arnhem have become, in some description, a 'feeder club' for those wanted away by Chelsea, accepting no fewer than 30 loanees since 2010, stretching back to the days of Nemanja Matic, right through to Dominic Solanke and most poignantly, Mason Mount. 

Now set to join his discharged Chelsea comrades, Musonda could start fresh in Holland and hopefully return with games, and experience, under his belt. However, there was no such Dutch delight, as a terrible knee injury forced him to miss the entirety of the season, excluding one solitary appearance in the penultimate fixture of the campaign. 

His recovery was tragically short-lived, as just three matches into the 2019/20 addition, he was struck by a similar knee problem and ultimately caused curtains on his cruel stay at Vitesse. To make matters worse, doctors feared the injury may be chronic, fearing for his chances of ever playing football again. 

Back to square one

Like a recurring dream, or nightmare in Musonda's case, the 23-year-old was cautiously restored to the Cobham set up, with his future still remaining to be decided. 

Thankfully, the video he sent out on social media will give all those connected with Chelsea a glimmer of positivity they may eventually be reunited with their lost starlet. 

The road ahead will not be straightforward. Regaining fitness aside, there may not be room for Musonda in Lampard's bolstering squad, especially in the forward department which is growing exponentially by the second. 

And upon his previous record, another loan move may shatter his confidence and fall into the trap of so many that have fallen before him, lost into the swirling darkness of the loan market, only seeing the light every few months when Chelsea cast them a short line. 

Yet, Lampard does, of course, provide that avenue for youth to flourish and if continues to make good of his philosophy, Musonda may still have a home at Chelsea. 

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