Kara Mbodji had big shoes to fill when swapping Genk for Anderlecht in the summer of 2015.
Signing for around £4 million according to Het Nieuwsblad, the powerhouse centre-back was given the difficult task of replacing the departed Chancel Mbemba at the heart of Anderlecht’s backline.
The Jupiler League giants had just lost their Congolese talisman to Newcastle United a month previously. And Mbemba was not only Anderlecht’s best defender, he was arguably the stand-out centre-back across the entire division.
Two years later, however, it’s fair to say that no one at the Constant Vanden Stock is missing Mbemba right now. Because Mbodji has not only succeeded Mbemba but arguably surpassed him too.
Helping Anderlecht take back the title last season while reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League, Mbodji is so highly rated that up to seven clubs are interested in signing him in January, per Turkish Football.
And, intriguingly, Newcastle United are battling Premier League rivals Swansea, Leicester, Crystal Palace and Brighton for the signature of a player who is valued at around £10 million.
Ironically, if Newcastle win the race for the 49-cap Senegalese international, it is the man Mbodji replaced at Anderlecht who should be suffering from sleepless nights.
Mbemba has been used as an afterthought by Rafa Benitez since he took over on Tyneside in the spring of 2016. The 23-year-old has started just four Premier League games all season and those all came in an unfamiliar left-back role, Mbemba filling in for the injured Paul Dummett.
And Newcastle’s number 18 could find that his first-team prospects become even bleaker if the man who replaced him at Anderlecht arrives at St James’ Park.