Belgian attacker Charly Musonda was one of the most talented youngsters in Chelsea back in 2018, and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was chuffed to have pipped 24 others to his loan services.
The then 21-year-old joined the Scottish Premiership club on an 18-month loan deal, and he hit the ground running at Parkhead, providing the assist as the Hoops ran out 1-0 winners against Zenit Saint Petersburg in the first-leg of their Europa League round of 16 fixtures in February.
However, Musonda struggled after his bright start at Celtic and was dropped from the team, with his loan spell eventually cut short after six months.
He returned to Chelsea afterwards and struggled with injuries before leaving permanently in June 2022.
Rodgers had been keen to sign Musonda in the summer of 2017, but Chelsea decided against the move.
The Celtic boss was finally pleased to get his man at the time, and the Belgian has opened up on the failed stint with the Bhoys.
“We ended up going out the following week (to Zenit), we lost there 3-0,” Musonda told The Athletic.
“And from then on, I didn’t play towards the end of the season and I never really spoke with Brendan Rodgers about why.
“Loans are quite tricky. You can have five of them and only one or two of them are great. It depends on a lot of things: on the club you’re going to, the situation, game time, the structure of that club.”
A Grade 2 posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury kept Musonda out of action for the next two and a half years, and by the time he was finally ready to return to action, he tested positive for COVID-19 in the summer of 2021 after travelling with the Chelsea squad to Ireland for pre-season.
His pre-season ended as he had to remain in self-isolation for a while, which affected his chances of forcing his way into the plans of former Blues manager Thomas Tuchel.
Musonda spent the rest of 2021-22 training with the reserves and then left the club, and he has admitted that his biggest regret from his time at Chelsea is not having the chance to fully showcase his talents.
“It’s not like I had that moment, that stage where it was given to you and you didn’t take it,” he continued.
“That’s not the feeling I have of my time at Chelsea… and that’s what’s frustrating.”
Musonda joined Chelsea in 2012 from Anderlecht, signing a contract extension in March 2015.
He had a loan spell with Real Betis in the second half of the 2015-16 season with an option to make the move permanent and was named man of the match on his professional debut against Valencia on February 7.
The former Belgium youth international returned to Stamford Bridge in January 2017 and broke into the Chelsea first team, making his debut in August 2017 in the FA Community Shield against Arsenal.
Musonda scored once in seven appearances for the Blues, and all but two of those were from the bench.
He signed a three-year contract with Cypriot First Division club Anorthosis Famagusta in September 2023 and will hope to impress enough to earn a move to one of Europe’s top leagues soon.