In the summer of 2012, a certain Belgian wonderkid joined the Champions of Europe, and changed the course of Chelsea history forever. We’re of course talking about Charly Musonda Jr.
Or so he, and we, might have imagined we could one day talk about him that way.
Unfortunately, after seven years on Chelsea’s books, Charly Jr is nowhere near that status. Some of that is because of the usual Chelsea issues with youth integration. Some of that is because of his own personal behaviors and (perceived) attitudes. He’s also been a victim of circumstance (thanks again, Brendan Rodgers), and he’s also had plenty of misfortune in terms of injuries.
In fact, it’s been injuries that have largely reduced him to just 600 senior minutes since 2016, combined across loan spells at Real Betis, Celtic, Vitesse, and a half-season under Conte in 2017-18. That’s less than half the minutes he earned in just half a season when he first joined the Loan Army and spent the second half of the 2015-16 season at Real Betis.
Last year’s spell at Vitesse was over practically before it began as he was injured in a training ground match during the September international break, barely a week after he joined. The 22-year-old returned to Chelsea for rehab, went back after a few months, got injured again, came back to Chelsea, got healthy by the new year, went back to Vitesse, got injured again, and looked to be done for the season.
But it turns out he’s done yet!
He recently confirmed via Instagram that he had returned to training and now he’s also returned to Vitesse, where if everything goes well, he might even feature in their Europa League qualifying playoffs, which are set to begin in a couple weeks (provided they qualify).
Vitesse head coach, Leonid Slutsky says they’re taking it slow with the youngster, to build-up his match fitness after a year of not playing and prevent yet another re-injury.
“The frequency [of training] is being built. We look at how we can burden him more and more. We hope to have Charly in the play-offs. But we are careful. He didn’t play football for a year because of that knee injury.”
-Leonid Slutsky; source: De Gerlander via Google Translate
It’s fairly rare for a loanee to return so late to a team, but that’s apparently also setting the stage for another loan there next season. A do-over, if you will. (His Chelsea contract doesn’t expire until 2022.)
“That is the intention, [to be with Vitesse next season]. Although the deal is not yet complete.”
-Charly Musonda Jr; source: De Gerlander via Google Translate
After all these trials and tribulations, all we can say is ... good luck, kid. You’re gonna need it!