Charly Musonda Jr arrived at Parkhead in January for an 18-month loan spell amid much fanfare and self-generated hype, going even as far as to take the no.67 shirt in tribute to his host club’s greatest season. It all seemed a little too much too soon, but the 21-year-old didn’t have to wait long at all to make his debut under former Chelsea youth and reserves coach Brendan Rodgers, coming on as a substitute at the first possible opportunity before starting three games in a row. His performances didn’t garner universal praise, but all agreed that the talent was as good as hyped, at least in moments.
But since a 0-0 draw against St. Johnstone in the middle of February, Musonda has made just one appearance (in six games) for a grand total of 22 minutes in the Cup even as Celtic continue to walk over the rest of the Scottish Premier League. Their title is hardly in doubt, which has led to frustrations even among their own faithful regarding Rodgers’ reluctance to use some of his younger talents, like Musonda or fellow loanee Patrick Roberts from Manchester City, especially when the rest of the team struggles to score as in the 0-0 against relegation-battling Dundee FC on Wednesday.
Baffling that Musonda and/or Roberts would not be brought on in a game like this.— (@GlasgowGandW) April 4, 2018
Rodgers, who has a rather checkered history in utilizing Chelsea loanees despite his association with the Blues as a youth coach (right, Josh McEachran?), was supposedly pushing very hard to acquire Musonda during the January transfer window — with supposedly over 20 other teams interested! — which makes his reluctance to use the highly promising youngster all the more confusing.
As Belgium manager Roberto Martinez opined last month, the length of the loan agreement (18 months) does provide room for patience but presumably Chelsea will want to see a bit more involvement for one of the academy’s most promising players. Musonda has spent the majority of the past two seasons (either at Real Betis or at Chelsea) wasting his development by not playing or being injured, and that trend needs to start changing soon.