It was the ease with which opponents were taken out of the game that truly stood out. A body feint followed by a couple of swift touches and the young Belgian was away and off to cause more havoc in the final third.
Yet this wasn’t Eden Hazard. It was the teenage winger who idolised Chelsea’s No.10 and hoped to one day follow in his footsteps at Stamford Bridge. It was Charly Musonda.
“Eden has taught me a lot coming through and he still teaches me a lot in training and after games,” the then 21-year-old told Chelsea’s website in October 2017, shortly after scoring on his full debut against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
It’s not outlandish to state that Musonda’s ceiling was as high as Hazard’s. He joined Chelsea aged 15 and those who watched him perform for the Chelsea sides would attest he had the same innate ability to beat defenders and possessed a penchant for the spectacular.
It was during pre-season with the latter that Musonda suffered an injury that would reshape his career. He tore his posterior cruciate ligament in a friendly against Antwerp and would make only one appearance during the 2018/19 campaign.
In an effort to provide the youngster with some continuity, it was decided that Musonda should remain at Vitesse for the following campaign, to continue his recovery in the less physically demanding Eredivisie.
Musonda has been included in the first-team group for the early weeks of pre-season alongside the likes of Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi. And beaming smile on his face during Monday’s session told its’ own story.
“It’s very difficult to have three years without being able to do what you really love,” he added in his interview with the BBC. “I would be lying to say that it’s been easy, but I’ve always known that some struggles are worth going through.
“I feel like a fighter now preparing for a boxing match. It would be an incredible comeback – an incredible story. Every day is part of the journey, every day a step closer to coming back. I’m on the right track.
“I do believe that if I put a run together and I come back, I can play for a good 10 years. I’m still 24 – if I come back in the prime of my career, I can put a run together – that’s my goal.”
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