Newcastle United fans always rated Chancel Mbemba very highly but it seemed that Rafa Benitez never really shared that enthusiasm.
Since the Spanish gaffer took over at St James’ Park in 2016, the Congolese centre-back found first-team football hard to come by. The 24-year-old made just seven Premier League starts for The Magpies last season and some of those came in an unfamiliar left-back role when Paul Dummett was injured at the start of the campaign.
So it was no surprise when Mbemba was sold in the summer, joining Primiera Liga champions Porto for £7 million (BBC) after a protracted transfer saga. But did Newcastle get a good deal? And did Celtic, who were linked in May by The Chronicle miss out on a brilliant signing or get a lucky escape instead?
Well, it’s fair to say Mbemba hasn’t exactly shone in Portuguese football so far. A knee injury kept the 24-year-old out of Porto’s team in the opening weeks of the season but he’s struggled for chances even after returning to full fitness.
Mbemba has made just one league appearance and that lasted a total of 10 minutes, while he has been left on the bench in three of the last four games.
Suddenly £7 million looks money well earned for Newcastle. And it’s tempting to wonder whether Mbemba would have been better off at Celtic instead.
With Dedryck Boyata seemingly set to leave in 2019 and Filip Benkovic only on loan from Leicester City, Mbemba could’ve been Celtic’s number one centre-back. Instead, he is a bench-warmer at Porto.
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