Time was when Patrick Roberts and Charly Musonda were lining up against one another.

Both coveted youth players, Roberts and Musonda will start on the same team with the latter revealing that the first thing he did upon checking into Celtic Park was to look out for his former foe.

“Friends?” smiled the articulate Musonda. “We were rivals because we used to play all the time against one another in big games like the Youth Cup final. When I came here the first thing I did was to speak to him and say that I am happy and excited to play with you and he said the same thing that he is happy and can’t wait to play together.”

Certainly, Musonda’s arrival has been greeted as eagerly as Roberts’ return by the Hoops support.

The latter is currently aiming for Celtic’s forthcoming Scottish Cup meeting against Partick Thistle as he returns from a hamstring injury, but with playmaker Musonda, Roberts and Moussa Demebele hinting at a return to last season’s form, the trio will present an intimidating challenge for opposition defences.

Certainly, Musonda is aiming high.

“In the main, it’s simple – I want to progress as a player,” he said. “I’ll give the best I can give and then, over the years, mature into a world-class player. I have the talent to do that so I just want to enjoy my football and develop.”

Key to the move finally getting to completion stage was Brendan Rodgers.

The Celtic manager has pursued Musonda since he first took over from Ronny Deila and was close to getting him in last term. That fell through because Chelsea wanted to keep the 21-year-old but now that he has arrived, the playmaker is itching to get onto the pitch and make an impression.

With a clutch of clubs keen on signing him, Celtic took precedence because of Rodgers’ track record in nurturing young talent at Swansea, Liverpool and Celtic.

“I’ve spoken with Brendan Rodgers and I have a good relationship with him,” explained Musonda. “This is a big club and he has developed quite a few other good young players over the years, going back to Scott Sinclair with Swansea.

“There were also top quality, high-profile players like Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling and here there is Patrick Roberts, whom I know well, and Kieran Tierney is an absolutely fantastic player for someone so young.

“It’s great to see the trust he has in young players so, for me, it was a no-brainer to come to Parkhead. It’s a dream for me to work with Brendan Rodgers.”

Rodgers was not the only reason.

Keen to play with pressure and with the demands of a hungry support, Musonda wants to be tested.

“It is about being wanted and appreciated but this is a club with a lot of pressure,” he said. “If you are playing for Chelsea the closest thing is to come to Celtic because this is as big with pressure games. Last year they drew with Manchester City. This is a big club. I have not come to relax and appreciate being at ease. I am a big, big club and I am happy to be here.”

Musonda was in the stand for the last game of the season against Hearts back in May last term as Celtic looked to impress themselves upon the player. Ironically, then, that he should make his debut for the club in Tuesday night’s 3-1 over the Tynecastle side with Musonda afforded a hero’s welcome when he came onto the pitch.

“I haven’t had that so far,” he smiled. “When I was at Real Betis it was a fantastic reception and even at Chelsea this season the love I have had was unbelievable, especially after my first game. Like yesterday it was unbelievable and I am sure there is more to come.”

Frustrated at the lack of game time at Chelsea, Musonda’s main ambitions do not stretch beyond being a regular in Rodgers’ team. If a World Cup place in the Belgian squad this summer is looming large in his thoughts, the player did a convincing job of insisting that he is thoughts are purely for the moment.

“The World Cup isn’t on my radar,” he said. “I’m not thinking about international football at all right now. Obviously, if I do well at a big club like Celtic than anything can happen but the most important thing for me at the moment is to enjoy the next three or four months.

“After that I’ll go on holiday and come back ready to prepare for life here next season. Plus, of course, there are still two domestic competitions to be won and that’s why I’m here. Don’t get me wrong – I’m here to play regularly but I also want to win and we are also still in the Europa League. Hopefully, we can go far in that as well. I’m well aware that last year the team won a treble and this season we can try and repeat that; we’ll go for it.”

Celtic have shelled out a considerable loan fee for Musonda and will also pay a sizeable salary for the player. In return they as well as the Hoops support will look for an up and coming talent to leave his mark on the club but Musonda has shrugged off any weight that may go with that.

“ I like to play for big teams in big games,” he said. “I’ve always played for big teams. I’ve played for Chelsea, I’ve played for Anderlecht and I’ve also been to Real Betis. These are big teams where you are expected to play well, so this is not in my head. I just want to go out and enjoy football and help the team to win. If it is in a creative way, then that is my job and I just try to help.”