Memorable debut for wonderkid dubbed as ‘the next Virgil van Dijk’ for Chelsea

Chelsea defender Xavier Mbuyamba on Monday made his long-awaited debut for the club following a summer move from Barcelona.

Injuries and fitness problems have hampered his progress, but he was named on the bench as Chelsea faced Southampton in Premier League 2 and came on with a little under half an hour to play and scored just four minutes later.

Here’s everything you need to know about him…

Career
Mbuyamba spent the majority of his youth career at Dutch outfit MMV Maastricht, making his debut in a second-tier Eerste Divisie game in November 2018 as a 16-year-old.

He went on to make a further ten league appearances during the 2018/19 season, at the end of which he actually spent time on trial at Chelsea, but the Blues could not sign him because of their transfer ban.

“At Chelsea, I started the week in under-18s and trained with under-23s at the end of the week,” he told The Sun.

“The higher the level, the better I got. I would have actually gone to Chelsea, because they were the first to come.”

Instead, he signed for Barcelona last summer and has been a part of their U19 side this season, also making three appearances in the group stage of the Uefa Youth League.

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Playing style
A Dutch youth international, Mbuyamba has unsurprisingly been compared to Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

At six-foot-four he certainly has the physical stature and presence in the air, but, as to be expected of a player signed by Barcelona, is also good on the ball.

While centre-half is his preferred position, he also proved an able deputy at right-back during his time at MMV.

What has he said?

Back in February, Mbuyamba posted on Instagram: “”I know you’re all wondering when you will see me play in Chelsea kit.

“A few weeks ago that moment was almost there. I was so focused on the comeback and hungry to play. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.

“Three weeks ago I had another operation, not as big as the first one but I will be out for a bit longer.

“It’s very frustrating but I have to be patient, the key is to keep working hard and stay strong so the comeback will be big. That’s what I do.”

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