Young centre-back Xavier Mbuyamba is ready to spark his Chelsea career into life next term after a tough first season at Stamford Bridge.
The Dutchman, who is considered as the ‘new Virgil van Dijk’ by many, joined the Blues in August last year after deciding to leave Spanish giants Barcelona and take on a new venture.
The 19-year-old, who signed a three-year deal in west London upon his arrival at the club almost 12 months ago, endured a difficult maiden season in England because of serious injury problems.
Upon his arrival in west London, Mbuyamba was immediately struck down by a long-term knee injury.
The youngster underwent keyhole surgery and began his recovery programme in September, and was expected to miss around four months of action.
However, after making a return to training in January, and eyeing up his first appearance for the Blues, the Dutchman was advised to undergo another minor operation on his knee.
After undergoing a second operation since joining the club, Mbuyamba had been working hard at the Blues’ Cobham training base and finally made his first appearance for the club’s development squad in mid-April, stepping off the bench and scoring during a 3-1 win over Southampton.
The Dutchman went on to make a further four appearances before the season reached its conclusion, starting all four of those matches.
But with a forgettable period now behind him, the youngster has issued a passionate cry on social media, making it clear that he is ready to kick-start his Blues career once and for all next season.
“I’ve never been more focused on the task ahead of me,” Mbuyamba wrote on his Twitter page. “Last season was tough due to injuries, but I’m pleased with the strong finish.
“Now we push onto next season and it’s time to level up!”
Considering Mbuyamba is only 19 and has been compared with Liverpool ace Van Dijk, it is clear that he has no shortage of potential within his locker, so much so that he will be looking to force his way into Thomas Tuchel’s plans next season.
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However, he will have his work cut out if it is regular first-team football that he is after. Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma are all still at the club, whilst Marc Guehi will be looking to force his way into Tuchel’s plans after successful loan spell at Swansea City.
But if Mbuyamba impresses for the Under-23s he may get the chance to train with the first-team squad from time to time and learn some hints and tips from some of the most experienced defenders in world football, most certainly Silva.
If Tuchel is prepared to hand Mbuyamba that chance, it will most certainly do no harm to his future prospects.