Xavier Mbuyamba is set to feature for Chelsea for the first time tonight as the young centre-back makes his return from a long-term knee injury.
The 19-year-old, who has been dubbed the ‘new Virgil van Dijk’, joined the Blues last summer on a free transfer after leaving Barcelona.
Chelsea beat off competition from several other European giants to bring Dutch defender to Stamford Bridge. But in just his second training session with the Blues, Mbuyamba tore the meniscus in his right knee.
The teenager underwent keyhole surgery and began his recovery in September. He was expected to miss around four months of football.
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Mbuyamba was back in training at the start of the year and was close to making his debut for Chelsea. But it was decided at the end of January that he should undergo another small operation on his knee.
“I know you’re all wondering when you will see me play in Chelsea kit,” he posted on his Instagram page in February.
“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.”
Mbuyamba has continued his rehabilitation and recovery work at Cobham over the past two months and is now back training with the Blues’ development squad.
And he is expected to feature against Southampton’s Under-23s this evening in what will be his first competitive appearance for Chelsea since joining the club.
Also joining the development squad tonight is Tino Anjorin. The 19-year-old midfielder is now a fixture of the first-team…