Who is Xavier Mbuyamba? Things to know about the young Dutch defender

Ross Kennerley
Mbuyamba could be the next big thing at Chelsea
Mbuyamba could be the next big thing at Chelsea / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Who is Xavier Mbuyamba, I hear you ask?

Well, dear readers, he's a young centre-back who Chelsea managed to lure from Barcelona in August 2020 and shone on debut with the reserves in April 2021, hence why you've probably seen his name crop up in the media.

But there is so much more to learn about the Dutchman, and a wee factoid about the young prospect seems to be in order if we are to understand why the Blues were so keen to get their man.

Here's seven things to know about the Chelsea youngster.

1. He nearly joined Chelsea in 2019

Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League
Chelsea could have landed their man a bit sooner / Julian Finney/Getty Images

Remember the summer of 2019 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 19-year-old 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."

2. He holds dual citizenship

Joey Koorevaar, Wouter Burger, Xavier Mbuyamba
Mbuyamba has represented the Netherlands at Under-19 level / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

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.

3. He's attracted interest from across Europe

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 are said to have had their interest piqued in the past - which makes it all the more impressive that Chelsea landed their man.

4. Van Dijk comparisons...because, obviously

Virgil van Dijk
Obviously he's already been compared to Virgil van Dijk / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

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 one of the best defenders in the world, 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.

5. What is he actually good at?

Nathan Mbuyamba
Mbuyamba during his days at Maastricht / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

We've seen over recent years that quality central defenders have become the unobtainable holy grail in European football. If you do want to by top-drawer talent, 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.

6. He's versatile

Given how tall he is, playing him 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.

That ball-playing ability means he is also comfortable in central midfield. Useful.

7. What's he achieved so far?

Xavier Mbuyamba
Mbuyamba will hope to become a full Netherlands international / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

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 in 2019.

Mbuyamba left the latter in 2020 having never played for their B team in the league, although he did make three appearances in the UEFA Youth League.

His only international appearance for the Netherlands to date came in an Under-19 friendly

8. Impressive Chelsea debut

Having suffered a torn meniscus in preseason, Mbuyamba only made his bow for the Chelsea development side in April 2021.

It was an impressive cameo too, with the 19-year-old coming off the bench to score the third in a 3-1 victory over Southampton. The towering defender reacted quickest to a loose ball in the penalty area, firing home with a poacher's finish.

Aside from the goal, Mbuyamba demonstrated his composure and passing range with a few excellent knocks, used his ridiculous height to win two aerial duels, completed a couple of neat interceptions and made a crunching sliding challenge - all in just 24 minutes.

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