OK, so Thursday night’s breaking news that Chelsea were closing in on the signing of 15 year-old Anderlecht midfielder Charly Musonda Jr proved to be spot on.
However, few reckoned on him being joined by his two older brothers, but both 20 year-old Lamisha and 18 year-old Tyka are also set to make the move to England after father Charly Sr demanded that the family be kept together if the Blues were to get their hands on the prized youngest brother.
It’s not an unfamiliar story, as we saw most recently when Luton’s Da Silva brothers joined the Chelsea academy and it often happens where families would rather not have to pick and choose which of their sporting sons they go to watch of a given weekend.
Father Charly Sr – a former Anderlecht player and current backroom staff member – told chairman Herman van Holsbeeck of his family’s desire to move to England and whilst clearly disappointed, the RSCA chief indicated that the English club have acted appropriately throughout:
“I want to emphasize that we greatly appreciate Chelsea’s gesture and efforts. Although RSCA regrets the departure of Musonda, the London club have acted correctly by offering a considerable sum to RSCA.”
No fees have been publicised but it would be highly surprising if it didn’t top seven figures, particularly with all three brothers making the move and with Charly Jr having been courted by the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona in the last twelve months.
Belgian football commentator John Chapman of Belgofoot has commented on the story here – http://www.belgofoot.be/?p=230 – and includes what will no doubt become a famous quote about Charly Jr being likened to both Xavi and Iniesta in style and approach. The token YouTube footage is, as usual, available:
Eldest brother Lamisha is an Under-21 international who featured against England at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium last season and whilst he has never really been considered as a star player, he does have some potential about him and has played with current Chelsea forward and former Anderlecht youngster Romelu Lukaku.
He will most likely join Dermot Drummy’s Under-21 squad for next season and feature heavily in the new Premier Development League, as will 18 year-old Tyka, perhaps the least-known (and least talented) of the group.
The trio are all midfielders of varying degrees of attacking prowess, mainly in the same mould of their anchorman father, who played almost 50 games for Zambia at international level in a career which was blighted by injury. Charly Jr has more about him going forward and is more comfortable in possession than any of them.
Of course, the Belgian contingent at Stamford Bridge continues to swell with Charly Jr, Tyka and Lamisha joining Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard in SW6, and they may not even be done with Marouane Fellaini and Moussa Dembele both being linked in recent weeks.
Why Belgium? Perhaps it’s best to let senior Chelsea scout Piet de Visser explain.
“Belgium is just bursting with talent. Why should we pick players from South America if we can find that calibre in Europe and the boys adjust more easily? It is important to attract these young players as early as possible so we don’t have to pay (Eden) Hazard prices. I first saw Eden when he was 15 but Lille had moved too quickly. Chelsea were alerted to De Bruyne and Courtois at the right moment. I watched De Bruyne for two years.”
It’s not just Chelsea who have moved for talent from the Kingdom – and specifically the Anderlect academy – with Manchester City having recently acquired Musonda’s team-mate Mathias Bossaerts, whilst Manchester United signed Adnan Januzaj last summer and Arsenal have maintained a long-standing interest in Dennis Praet.
Understandably, RSCA fans are disappointed with how things have gone but the wider perception in Belgian football is that they are producing an extremely talented generation of players who are exporting the national game to some of the biggest clubs in the world, and doing so with justification. It’s a source of pride for some and with the very young crop, there’s much anticipation about what they might be able to achieve.
Charly Jr turns 16 in October and therefore will technically be an Under-16 schoolboy for next season, but will be expected to contribute for Adi Viveash’s Under-18 team early and often, as the likes of Islam Feruz did last season.
It might be a while before we see these particular Belgian boys in the first team, but their names will certainly become more familiar next season.
(A big thanks to @Blue_Revolt1986 for much of the research on this piece)