Chancel smiles in the Bold / France / Olympique Marseille /

On July 15, Chancel Mbemba became OM’s second summer transfer recruit. Thus, for three years the Congolese defender satisfies the need for experience within the group that must be on the best path back to the Champions League train. The image of a solid, hardworking player determined to light up the racetrack.

Usually meant by the Mohs scale of stone’s hardness, it would also have helped recruits rate the hardness of the defenders they would have in their sight. On the same ten-level scale, Chancel Mbemba’s place was undoubtedly between a hardness of 8 of topaz and a hardness of 10 of a diamond. Even if his arrival at OM is not the most famous, there is no doubt that the international who has played 66 caps for the DRC will be able to meet the demands of the people of Marseille in the defensive sector. Free after the expiration of his contract with FC Porto – and the salary varies according to in Pula -, Mpemba did not lack petitions. Liverpool, Milan, Napoli, Betis and even OL have shown more or less interest in the player.

Porto can say “Thank you for Mpemba”

But the road before it was on the shelves of Europe’s top clubs was a zigzag for Chancel Mbemba. After a few amateur clubs in Kinshasa, the man with four birthday dates joined Anderlecht Academy in 2011. Not only were the Belgian companies with mining interests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Royal Antwerp and Standard, so Anderlecht would also get On some rough diamonds on the banks of the Congo River. Among the Mauves, Mbemba meets Rolando, on loan from FC Porto in 2015. “Off the field, he was a really good little guy. A quiet and shy person” The Portuguese international testifies. Four years in Belgium, including two full seasons in the Jupiler Premier League, impresses the Congolese with his physical maturity and toughness in duels. It is enough to hire Newcastle led by Steve McClaren in 2015 for 6 million euros. In England, Mpemba stumbles. Despite a promising first season, the latter ended up being relegated to the championship. What follows, on orders from Rafael Benitez, slows his progress. The latter, who sees his defender not learning English fast enough, separates him from the eleven. Mbemba will not regain the coach’s confidence magpie bird. Not enough to break his own though. When his contract expired in the summer of 2018, he joined FC Porto.

Chancel Mbemba arrives in Portugal under the auspices of Sergio Conceição, who personally requests his appointment. The four seasons of their collaboration will greatly satisfy the Dragons trainer. After a season of acclimatization marked by a knee injury, Mbemba played an important role in winning the Portuguese title in 2020 as well as the National Cup in the same year, scoring twice with a header against Benfica at last. His duet with Pepe becomes irremovable, and the next two seasons will only be better. Located in the central right axis of the Sergio Conceição 4-4-2 Defender, is the fixed shaft of the center hinge. While the eternal Pepe had to contend with some physical vulnerabilities in 2021-2022, no questions were asked to threaten Mbemba. So much so that out of 47 games he played last season, he became the most used player in the team, ahead of Portugal international goalkeeper Diogo Costa or Ottavio, who is considered the best player in the team. portista. In the national and European competitions, Mbemba managed to beat Porto, which ended up leaving for an adventure in Marseille. Two cities Rolando does not hesitate to compare: “Marseille is very similar to Porto. These are big cities that are passionate about football and everyone is behind the city club.”

A pivotal year for him and OM

Just being recruited as OM’s new coach, Igor Theodor was quick to announce his intentions to play. “Attack, Intense, Organized, Brave” , he must correspond in all respects to the player who is Chancel Mbemba. Especially that during his first press conference, Tudor took very seriously to add that this football should not be misplaced. “At the expense of the defense” . ‘Offensive’ wouldn’t be the first adjective that came to a defender’s mind, even though he was crucial in the big moments. “Intensive,” Mpemba no doubt. “His greatest attributes are his superior speed, his quality in one-on-one swordsmanship and his versatility” Rolando, in particular, attests. “Organised,” Chancel Mbemba learned to be with the stubborn Sergio Conceição in this regard. The latter insists with its players on concepts such as positioning or anticipation, two concepts that have been completely assimilated by the powerful Congolese. This well-organised, Mpemba also managed to absorb it through his European experience. At the age of 27 officially, he has played 24 matches in the Champions League and European League during the past two seasons. An experience that will be essential in a defensive sector where he will be able to work as a mentor – with Luan Peres – with players such as Leonardo Valerdi, Samuel Gigot or Isaac Touré, who are still beginners at such a level. “Brave” at last, because Mpemba does not hesitate to give the best of himself to his people.

It remains to be known now the exact role that Tudor will assign to Mpemba. If the pattern is confirmed with three defenders, Mbemba can take the central position. His toughness, which is widely praised, but also his role as a framework for less experienced players, should make him the preferred candidate for the job. However, it will be necessary to surround him with players who are comfortable to recover and who are tall, because the Achilles heel of the Congolese is right there. He is not a great receiver and often struggles in the air from a height of 1.82 metres. In 2021-2022, he won only 46% of his air duels. Thus, a good player like Balerdi or Luan Peres as well as a player with great physique like Isaak Touré and his double scale can better support the former FC Porto manager. In terms of integrating the player into the group, it should be done much better than in Newcastle, for example. With good reason, the 27-year-old defender already speaks French and knows some team members like Cedric Bakambu, his teammate of choice. “I am very confident that he will be able to impose himself in OMRolando warns. He is a player who is ready to the highest level, with a lot of qualities and experience. Especially since his characteristics adapt very well to the playing form of Ligue 1. I am sure that the fans and the club will love the wonderful man and player that he is. » There’s no doubt that Pablo Longoria has turned into a gold miner again this summer. It is a safe bet that this precious stone finds its place in the Olympic edifice.

Written by Amaury Gonsalves

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