By Oliver Harbord – Chelsea correspondent
Last season Charly Musonda was the golden boy amongst Chelsea fans and there was hope that he would be given his chance in the first team by Antonio Conte.
However, in January he was sent out on loan for the second time in his Blues career as he was shipped off to Celtic on an initial 18-month deal with the hope that he would get the game time needed to make a real impact in the first team.
But after just eight appearances in the Scottish Premiership, Scottish FA Cup and the Europa League, Musonda was sent back to Chelsea a season early after Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers claimed that he could not guarantee the Belgian would get time on the pitch.
“Chelsea actually came to me and to us about the possibility of taking Charly,” Rodgers said. “Charly signed an 18-month loan deal with a break at the end of the season to discuss where it’s at and we both felt that, probably for what he needs at this stage of his career – and what I’d hope to give him – I can’t guarantee.
“Charly’s not 17 or 18, like Pat Roberts was when he came in. He’s older and he’s at a stage where he needs to play and play week in, week out and unfortunately, I couldn’t guarantee him that. We had a look at it and it was best for him to go back and probably pick up a loan somewhere else.”
So this summer the 21-year0old has been back with Chelsea and training at Cobham, but after some promise last season it seems that he is a long way off being part of the first team.
Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Victor Moses and even Callum Hudson-Odoi are above him in the pecking order for a starting, while there have been clear signs that he is going to struggle being part of Maurizio Sarri’s plans.
Musonda has been part of the development squad this season so far and has netted twice from the penalty spot, instead of being around the first team for their final pre-season game and then the opening Premier League game at Huddersfield Town.
What next for Musonda is a true test of in which way his career might be heading. With the Premier League window closed, the Belgian will not be sticking around in England and with Mateo Kovacic also being given his number 17 shirt, he won’t be sticking around at Chelsea.
Several Chelsea fans have turned their attention on to Hudson-Odoi and the fact that Musonda is not close to a start means a loan move, having extended his contract just last year, is the most likely thing to happen.
But this will be the key season for the 21-year-old who went from a fans’ favourite to a forgotten man for the Blues right now.