Chelsea’s ‘next van Dijk’ Mbuyamba nets on U23s debut, but who is the stopper signed from Barcelona?
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The name of Chelsea starlet Xavier Mbuyamba has taken centre stage online this evening, but just who is the highly-regarded talent?
Mbuyamba, 19, is a Dutch central defender.
The youngster is a product of the youth system of MVV Maastricht, where he first began to catch the eye of scouts across the continent in making his senior debut at the age of just 16.
In the end, following a further 10 appearances, it was Barcelona who beat out the competition to snag Mbuyamba’s signature, luring the defender to Catalunya to link up with the club’s famed La Masia academy.
To say that the Blaugrana’s plans for the teen didn’t exactly go to plan, though, would be putting it lightly.
Mbuyamba’s stint at the Camp Nou, remarkably, lasted just 12 months, following disagreements between executives at the club regarding his development.
In turn, on the back of a series of broken promises, the Dutchman saw his contract torn up last summer.
This of course opened the door for other suitors to step up, with Chelsea, who had been forced to end their prior interest in his services due to the club’s transfer ban, having quickly swooped.
Mbuyamba went on to put pen to paper on a 3-year deal in West London:
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) August 20, 2020
Despite his somewhat bizarre stint at Barcelona, the stopper’s addition was viewed as a major coup for Chelsea, with Mbuyamba boasting a host of impressive defensive traits.
In fact, the 19-year-old’s stature (6ft5) and ability on the ball have even seen him earn early comparisons to Liverpool stalwart Virgil van Dijk.
Unfortunately for Mbuyamba, however, his Stamford Bridge stint got off to the worst possible start.
In just his second training session in the colours of the Blues, the former Maastricht man tore the meniscus in his right knee, an injury which had kept him on the sidelines ever since.
But, this evening, the Chelsea faithful were finally handed their first glimpse of the talents of their up-and-coming defender.
The club’s U23 side were in action a short time ago, in a Premier League 2 meeting with Southampton.
In turn, Mbuyamba, after returning to full fitness, was handed a spot on the bench by manager Andy Myers.
With the hosts leading by 2 goals to 1 – courtesy of strikes from Tino Anjorin and Silko Thomas – it was decided that the Dutch starlet would be handed his debut 25 minutes from time.
And Mbuyamba did not take at all long in making his presence felt, finding the net courtesy of a volleyed effort from close range, just five minutes after stepping onto the pitch:
GOAL! 3-1 Xavier Mbuyamba gets a goal with a six yard box volley. He’s been out a long while but five minutes into his debut he’s got himself a goal. Love it 💙👊🏼⚽️
— CarefreeYouth (@CarefreeYouth) April 12, 2021
Chelsea went on to see out a 3-1 win, on a fine night all-round for the club’s gifted crop of young talent.