Ever since he made his debut for the Chelsea youth teams a couple years ago, we've know that Charly Musonda has bags talent and even more promise for the future. In his two full years in the Academy, he'd not only led the boys to back-to-back FA Youth Cup titles, but also was instrumental in our UEFA Youth League triumph as well as the U21 Premier League trophy the season prior. In short, he outgrew the level of competition offered by the youth tournaments and leagues in which Chelsea participated almost as quickly as he arrived. A challenging loan was long-overdue, especially since, for some reason, we were a bit reluctant to include him in too many first-team activities.
Enter Real Betis then. On Sunday, struggling Betis (winless in 12, in all competitions) hosted equally struggling Valencia (winless in 11 La Liga matches), and decided to not waste any time and give the Chelsea loanee his professional debut, starting on the right wing and getting matched up against one-time Chelsea transfer target José Luis Gayà. And as we can see above, young Charly came out well on top, including a secondary assist on the game's only goal.
No tiki-taka timidity here. Instead, the highlights are full of direct running, take-ons, fouls drawn, and creating chances for himself as well as others. The stats read like Eden Hazard at some of his best from last year: 5/11 take-ons, 5 fouls drawn, 3 tackles, 8 'ball recoveries'. More importantly, after a few initial nervous touches, the 19-year-old settled down and regularly and confidently went about causing havoc in Gary Neville's defensive setup. While he still looks like a frail little boy out there at times, it was a most impressive debut and first ever professional (i.e. non-youth) appearance.
Musonda's loan is at least through the end of this season, with some reports saying there's an option for another year afterwards (but no buy-option). Regardless, things are off to a good start. More of the same next time, please!