Thomas Tuchel was in attendance on Friday night, as Xavier Mbuyamba saw out his first full outing for Chelsea’s U23s, en route to a 1-0 victory over Blackburn.
Who is Xavier Mbuyamba?
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.
Tuchel watches on
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 all the way through to last month.
A Premier League 2 meeting with Southampton on April 12th, though, saw Mbuyamba finally handed his debut, with the stopper having emerged from the bench to find the net en route to a 3-1 win over West Ham.
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
In turn, the Dutchman was rewarded with starts in Chelsea’s two ensuing outings, versus Tottenham and Manchester United respectively.
Last night, though, marked the first time Mbuyamba managed to see out a full 90 minutes in a Chelsea shirt.
The Blues’ U23s were in Premier League 2 action once again, in a meeting with high-flying Blackburn Rovers.
And, when all was said and done at Kingsmeadow, Andy Myers’ men emerged on the right side of a 1-0 scoreline, to climb above Blackburn into 2nd in the table.
Mbuyamba, for his part, impressed, looking supremely assured in guiding Chelsea to a clean sheet.
Not only that, but the starlet’s display was taken in by none other than first-team boss Thomas Tuchel, who was spotted watching on from the stands ahead of the club’s Premier League meeting with Fulham earlier today:
Thomas Tuchel is watching the Chelsea Dev game 👀 pic.twitter.com/aiXnm0U58I
— CFC Loan Army (@CFC_LoanArmy) April 30, 2021