Scout Report: Charly Musonda, Chelsea's upcoming attacking midfield marvel
Chelsea youngster Charles Musonda is set for a first team call-up this season. After being sent out on loan for the last two seasons to Real Betis, Musonda has been told by Antonio Conte that he is going to stay at Stamford Bridge and has been given the no '17' jersey to fight for his place.
Often referred to as Charly Musonda or Charly Musonda Jr, he is a Belgian footballer who plays mainly as an attacking midfielder but can also play as a winger.
The Belgian international is one of the most talented youngsters in Chelsea and the fans are eager to see him play with the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian et al. After selling Nathaniel Chalobah recently, there was criticism that the Blues get rid of their younger players. So, Musonda's supposed step up is positive news.
In his first professional debut for Betis against Valencia, the Belgian international started off with a bang and was awarded the Man of the match. A week later, he scored his first professional goal against Deportivo La Coruna.
One of the greatest strengths that Musonda has is his dribbling-which makes him a threat against defenders in one-on-one situations.
Born on 15th October 1996 in Brussels, Musonda started his career at Anderlecht's youth academy. At just 15 years of age, he was linked with the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City.
In June 2012, Musonda joined Chelsea and on October 2013, he signed his professional contract with Chelsea, after already being a regular for the U-18s.
The Belgian international then became a regular with the U-21s and in March 2015, he signed a contract extension until 2019. In the 2014-15 season, Musonda won the FA Cup and the UEFA Youth Champions League with the club and also attracted interest from French clubs Marseille and Monaco. However, nothing came out of it.
In the first half of the 2015-16 season, the 20-year old didn't make any first team appearance and he asked to move in search of game time.
On 29th January 2016, he moved to Real Betis on loan until the end of the season, without the option of making it permanent. After impressing in the second half of the season, the loan move was extended for the 2016-17 season as well.
The Belgian international, however, made only 1 start in 8 appearances under manager Gus Poyet and returned to Chelsea on 1st January 2017.
Musonda has excellent pace and ball control. Already being a starter for the Belgian U21 side and having impressed for the U21 team at Chelsea, there is no doubt that he is short of talent. Don't judge the kid by his figure. He might have a very slight figure, but he is still pretty hard to knock off the ball. His main asset is his dribbling and the ability to create opportunities in tight spaces. Musonda is known for his pace and quick feet, not to forget, he is very skillful.
In the 2015-16 season, only Neymar (75) had completed more successful dribbles in La Liga than Charly Musonda (57).
Like any other player, he also has certain weakness. The player lacks when it comes to aerial duels and crossing. However, being just a kid, he has a long way to go and with time, he will overcome his weakness like other players.
What happens next?
Having earned the trust of Conte, Musonda must now look to grab this opportunity and make the best out of it. It is not common for Chelsea youngsters to break into the first team and Musonda must make sure that he does not mess it up. If Mourinho was still at Chelsea, the Belgian would have had some problems regarding his future at the club. But with Conte, the player may have a chance to impress.
Musonda has travelled with the squad for the pre-season games and this is the best time to gain Conte's attention.
Musonda might not get enough playing time with the likes of Hazard and Pedro in the staring 11. However, with Champions League football returning to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea would have to play a lot of games. The Belgian can be used in the domestic Cup games and also provides depth to the squad.
There have been many players who have faded away after making their debut with a big team. The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah were touted to have bright futures, but have faded away. The Chelsea fans will hope that Musonda's case will be different.