Who is Xavier Mbuyamba, I hear you ask? Well, dear readers, he’s a young centre-back who has been linked with a move to Chelsea, hence why you’ve probably heard his name crop up in the last 24 hours.
But there is so much more to learn about the Dutchman currently plying his trade at Barcelona, and a wee factoid about the young prospect seems to be in order if we are to understand why the Blues are so keen on signing him.
While football may not be on at the moment, that hasn’t stopped scouts across the continent working overtime to seek out the most exciting players on the market, or, in some cases, even those not even on the market at all.
But enough about that, here’s seven things to know about the Chelsea-linked man.
He Nearly Joined Chelsea Last Summer
Remember last summer, when Chelsea weren’t allowed to sign anyone? Yeah, those were unfortunate times for the west London side, especially since they were on the verge of snapping up Mbuyamba in the weeks building up to their transfer ban.
The prospect underwent trials at Chelsea as the club sized up a move for the then-MVV Maastricht player, only for their eventual transfer hindrances to stop them in their tracks.
“I would have actually gone to Chelsea, because they were the first to come,” Mbuyamba told VTBL, via The Sun.
“But because of a transfer ban they could not offer a contract. Then the choice finally fell on Barcelona.”
He Holds Dual Citizenship
With such a downright cool name, it’s interesting to know the origins of it, isn’t it?
Turns out that Mbuyamba holds both DR Congo and Dutch citizenship, having been born to a Congolese father and Dutch mother. He was born in the city of Maastricht, though, meaning when he turned out for the club he was playing for his local side. That’s always nice.
Plenty of European Sides Have Asked About His Availability
Well, at least that’s what his agent has said. But, as we all know, that can often be a sneaky way of bumping up interest and forcing the (actually) interested clubs to act fast and efficiently.
Juventus, Inter, Real Madrid as well as other top clubs in England and Germany have had their interest piqued, with the feeling being from the Dutchman’s camp that Barcelona won’t offer him enough playing time, hence the clamour to offer him a route out to another side on the continent.
Virgil van Dijk Comparisons…Because, Obviously
You guessed it.
Any up and coming talent ends up with a like-for-like comparison, whether it’s the player’s coaches or just media hype making the call, it’s always bound to happen.
So, with him being Dutch and a central defender, the natural course of action is to draw up comparisons with the best defender in the world right now, Virgil van Dijk.
How valid those links are is somewhat debatable, but if you see ‘next Virgil van Dijk’ floating around anywhere, then presume with some certainty it’s Mbuyamba.
What is He Actually Good At?
We’ve seen over recent years that central defenders have become the unobtainable holy grail in European football. Well, at least in regards to good ones, that is. If you do want to by top-drawer talent, though, then expect to pay a fortune.
So, with an exciting young star causing a European club scramble, Mbuyamba must be good at something. Turns out, that’s defending.
Already standing at 6’4, his aerial ability has been highlighted as particularly strong, although for someone of his stature, he boasts good natural technique and assurance in possession. Think a Van Dijk and Joel Matip cross, if you like.
He’s Filled in At Right-Back During His Career
Given how tall he is, playing in a full-back position might seem like an odd tactical choice, but it’s a role that Mbuyamba has taken up before during his days playing in his native Netherlands.
That aforementioned comfort on the ball is what puts him in good stead here, despite the obvious fear of being outpaced by a speedy winger. But fear not, he’s apparently no slouch either.
What’s He Achieved So Far?
Considering he’s yet to make an appearance even for Barcelona’s B side, you wonder where all this lauding is coming from.
He’s made 14 club appearances to date, three coming in the UEFA Youth League for Barcelona and 11 more for MVV Maastricht in the Dutch second tier, the Eerste Divisie.
He only completed 90 minutes on two occasions for Maastricht, but the evidence of his quality was clear for all to see, hence why Chelsea and Barça were so keen last summer.
His only international appearance for the Netherlands to date came in an Under-19 friendly
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