One of the most galling failures in a frustrating transfer window was Newcastle United’s inability to sign an orthodox left-back. And, surely enough, this was laid bare in brutal fashion when Paul Dummett, the first-choice option on the left of The Magpies’ back four, limped off less than ten minutes into the new season against Tottenham Hotspur.
Since then, Javi Manquillo, Ciaran Clark and Jesus Gamez have all been trialled in the position but Chancel Mbemba has perhaps stood out the most. You wonder, then, if his impressive performances in a new role mean his days as a centre-half at Newcastle are over.
After all, the fact that the Congolese international has only really forced his way into the team due to an injury crisis, and has been made to play out of position, rather shows where he stands at St James’ Park.
And reports in The Sunday People (8th October, page 49) stating that Newcastle are plotting a £2 million January move for Slavia Prague defender Jakub Jugas suggest Mbemba may struggle even more to play in his preferred centre-back position.
The Czech Republic international, who joined Slavia for just £500,000 from Fastav Zlin in the summer, has been scouted on at least three occasions by The Magpies this season and has impressed with his committed and tenacious displays.
Jugas would provide Newcastle with further depth at centre-half. Therefore, if Mbemba was struggling to force his way into the XI in his natural position, starting just 12 times in the Championship under Benitez too, the 23-year-old may have to get used to his new position over a longer period of time.
Perhaps a back-up, left-back role is what the future holds for Mbemba on Tyneside.