Alex McLeish lauds Newcastle's prospective signing Chancel Mbemba, calls him a 'machine'

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The 20-year-old is due to link up with the Magpies and the former Premier League manager has heaped praise on the defender.

Ex-Premier League coach Alex McLeish has lauded prospective Newcastle United signing Chancel Mbemba, according to the Chronicle.

Indeed, the now Genk boss feels the defender is a 'machine' and has welcomed Newcastle's interest in the Congolese youngster.

According to the club's official website, the St James' Park outfit have agreed a deal for Mbemba, with everything but a visa for the player sorted. And McLeish has given a detailed summary of what the young defender will offer Newcastle.

He told the Chronicle: "I don’t think he’s the tallest for a centre half. He’s maybe not quite 6ft, maybe 5ft 11. But he’s excellent in the air  he’s got a huge spring on him and he’s very, very athletic.

"He’s a machine, really, when you see him on the pitch. He’s got everything you need to be a top-class central defender - he’s quick, he’s strong, he’s powerful and he’s got really good acceleration.

"I thought that we had one of the best centre-halves in the division in [Kara] Mboji and I think Mbemba was probably the best."

Filling the Coloccini void

As was explored by HITC Sport recently, Mbemba could be the ideal successor to Fabricio Coloccini, should the Argentine end up leaving Newcastle this summer.

McLeish's comments, whatever can be said about his managerial ability and whether he is a good judge of ability or not, seem to back up Steve McClaren's interest in the 20-year-old.

Athleticism and power are ideal characteristics for the Magpies back line considering how little energy their defence showed in the Premier League last term. But there will be pressure on Mbemba, as Newcastle can ill afford further defensive turmoil next campaign.

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