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Former Barca youngster Mbuyamba joins Chelsea while snubbing several Premier League rivals

20:46 GMT+3 20/08/2020
Xavier Mbuyamba Netherlands
The club has signed the young defender on a free transfer beating a host of interest from English clubs

Chelsea's charm offensive over several years has helped the club win the race to sign talented free agent Xavier Mbuyamba, who recently reached an agreement to be released for free by Barcelona.

The 18-year-old has signed on until 2023 and has been tracked by the west Londoners since he made his debut at MVV Maastricht in the Dutch second division at just 16.

Unfortunately, the Blues missed out on him due to the transfer ban last summer but the youngster was then released by Barca due to the Catalans' inability to match promises made to sign him.

Mbuyamba had a good season in Barcelona's Under-19s side last season and had hoped to step up to Barcelona B, only to see his pathway blocked due to a dispute between different executives inside La Masia.

It ultimately led to him negotiating his release despite academy director and compatriot Patrick Kluivert having initially pushed hard to get him to sign on terms for the La Liga giants.

Juventus had made an offer to Mbuyamba but there was concern about the competition from their other young defenders, while he also wanted to experience English football.

Frank Lampard gave eight academy products debuts last season, which is a club record in a single season, surpassing the seven handed out by Ken Shellito and Danny Blanchflower in the 1978/79 season.

That was one of the draws for Mbuyamba, who is open-minded about spending a season at youth level while pushing for a first-team spot under Lampard.

Meanwhile, he would also have a conversation about going out on loan if needed, with Vitesse being an obvious candidate due to his nationality and the Blues' relationship with the Eredivisie side.

The clubs that missed out on the youngster are understood to be among the biggest in the UK, making the move a big win for academy chiefs at Cobham Training Centre.

Perhaps due to his nationality and size, the defender has been compared to Virgil van Dijk in the past and is capable of playing at either centre-back or right-back.

Chelsea have already invested huge sums into their youth team this summer and recently announced their latest list of academy scholars.

Ahead of the new season, Edwin Andersson has joined from IFK Gothenberg, Jimi Tauriainen from Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi and Bryan Fiabema from Tromso.

The Blues have, however, seen one of their finest young players in Samuel Illing Junior leave, with the winger set to be announced as a Juventus player in the near future.