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Ex-Chelsea defender Xavier Mbuyamba has been called the ‘new Van Dijk’ and was schooled by Barca at La Masia academy

BARCELONA and Chelsea’s loss could be another European heavyweight’s gain.

The Blues added towering defender Xavier Mbuyamba to their ranks in 2020, after he reportedly cancelled his contract with the La Liga giants.

Dutch defender Xavier Mbuyamba was snapped up by Chelsea
He was sold in the summer due to new Fifa rules regarding loan players

The 18-year-old Dutch defender came with the some pedigree.

Standing at 6ft 5in, not only is he a man-mountain, the Dutchman composed style has drawn comparisons to Liverpool star Virgil Van Dijk.

However, the late bloomer was let go by the Blues this summer as he joined Volendam in his homeland with just four Under-23s appearances.


As is standard with Dutch players coming through the youth system, it’s normally the big two – Ajax and PSV – who have first dibs on the best talents coming through.

But Mbuyamba – full name Xavier Tshimanga Kamaluba Ntite Mukendi Mpoyi Mbuyamba – slipped through the cracks.

And he was ignored by the national team at youth level too.

“It is strange that they never came, but the same applies to the KNVB,” Mbuyamba told Dutch TV station RTL.

“I was called up for the first time [to the U19s squad] in November 2019. The staff immediately said that they thought it strange that I had never been noticed before.”

At 16 Mbuyamba broke into the MVV Maastricht first team
Impressed by his talents, Patrick Kluivert recruited Mbuyamba to the La Masia academy


Mbuyamba made his debut at the age of 16 in the unfashionable Dutch second division with hometown club MVV Maastricht.

Soon, the world’s biggest clubs starting taking notice of him.

Barcelona academy director Patrick Kluivert invited him for a trial at La Masia.

Chelsea also registered their interest, and he trained with the West Londoners for a week.

But, swayed by the prospect of appearing in Barcelona’s B side and then the first team, he opted for the move to Spain in 2019.

Mbuyamba had hoped to break into Barcelona’s B side this season
Despite impressing for Barcelona’s Under-19 team, Mbuyamba found his chances of progression limited
Mbuyamba bravely decided to leave Barcelona by mutual consent


Mbuyamba’s hopes of prospering with Barça hit a halt when the B side refused to give him a starting role.

Having starred for their Under-19 team in central defence and at right-back, it was hard for the ambitious centre half to stomach.

However, a divide between La Masia and the B team was said to be one of the reasons for Mbuyamba’s lack of opportunity at a higher level.

He also had hoped a loan deal would help him gain valuable first-team experience, but Barcelona saw it differently.

Initially, they demanded around £1.8million for his talents. But his contract was cancelled by mutual consent, and he became available as a free agent.


Chelsea were one of four Premier League clubs who made offers to Mbuyamba.

Real Madrid, Juventus and other European giants were also monitoring the situation.

With his action again limited, his mood was worsened by the Blues refusing to let him go out on loan in January 2022.

However, the youngster – who turns 21 on New Year’s Eve – was one of the Chelsea victims of the new Fifa rule limiting the number of loan players permitted.

Mbuyamba has been compared to Virgil Van Dijk
West London is Mbuyamba’s next destination
Mbuyamba has made a solid start with FC Volendam back in the Netherlands

Powerful aerially, Mbuyamba boasts that same rapid recovery speed Van Dijk utilises to snuff out danger.

He’s also remarkably comfortable in possession, given his height, and is at ease playing the ball out of defence.

Graham Potter will be gutted he didn’t get the chance to get a tune out of him at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.

But should he continue to impress with Volendam – described as a “step up” from Chelsea by Mbuyamba – the defender remains confident he can get his big break on the world stage.

Speaking after his Eredivisie debut in September, he said: “Many people think that Chelsea to FC Volendam is a step down, but I see it as a step up.

“I go from U23 football to the Eredivisie. If I play a lot, I can develop well. That’s it really. There was interest from Eredivisie clubs, and I had a very good feeling here.

“For my development, I chose FC Barcelona. I learned a lot there. I actually wanted to go straight to Chelsea, but they got a transfer ban.

“Then I went the following year. There I experienced a lot and developed myself.

“I want to play one, two, three seasons here. As soon as I’m ready, I’ll hopefully make the step to the top of the Eredivisie.”

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