A year ago the Celtic support were head over heels for Charly Musonda.
The midfielder had signed on an 18-month loan from Chelsea – promising the earth, the moon and the stars. When he created a Europa League goal for Callum McGregor against Zenit St Petersburg, it seemed that a beautiful relationship was underway.
Earlier this week the young Belgian, without any meaningful action this season, was a spectator at El Clasico, another face in the crowd, about as far from the action at the Nou Camp as any of the 92,000 fans watching Real Madrid earn a 1-1 draw.
It quickly went downhill for Musonda at Celtic. He joined the club at a difficult time but seemed more interested in his social media profile than playing his way into Brendan Rodgers’ system.
His 18-month loan deal was cut short in May, returning to Chelsea without any lessons learned. A knee injury hampered this season’s loan spell with Vitesse as the downward spiral continued.
Musonda will retire from football as a very rich young man. Perhaps he’ll have regrets about a talent scorned but his case perfectly highlights the player ‘farms’ being built up by big clubs like his parent club which is effectively killing off emerging talent.
A generation ago Musonda might have caught the eye in Belgium, earned a move to Anderlecht, perhaps Celtic then moved to a mid-table EPL side before reaching Chelsea.
Offering impressionable teenagers long contracts ensures that their bank balance will be healthy but their career will at best stall as they miss out crucial steps in their development.