Date of Birth: 19.04.1995 (22 years old)
Position: Right Back
Team: BSC Young Boys
Value: 2.250.000 €
Contract Until: 30.06.2020
Height: 1.84 m
Preferred Foot: Right
Melingo Kevin Mbabu was born in Switzerland, as a child of a Congolese mother. He began his career at Servette FC’s youth team. In 2012, he promoted to the senior team and at the same year he made his professional debut at the match against Lausanne-Sport.
In January 2013, Newcastle United signed him for 1M€. From that date, he played 26 games in total with the senior (three of them was Premier League match) and reserve teams. In addition, he was loaned to Scottish-side Glasgow Rangers in February to July 2015, but he couldn’t find a chance to play in that team.
After that, he was loaned to BSC Young Boys in August, 2016. This move has changed his career into a positive way. Following his good performance in first year with the team, YB has completed Mbabu’s transfer in the last summer transfer window. From his first transfer to YB to today, he has played 51 games with 4 goals and 9 assists.
The Swiss player had previously played in the national team’s U16, U17, U18, U19 and U20 youth teams and he has no senior team experience yet. But we can say that Mbabu, who has a very consistent and high-quality rival like Michael Lang in front of him, can play in the national team in proportion to his performance in coming years.
Mbabu has been playing mostly as right back in 4-defense formation in Young Boys for two seasons. Even if he played as a right wing back in 3-defense formation in few matches before, we should note that he used to play as right back.
Strengths (Athletic Physique, Challenges, Tackling, Crossing)
Athletic Physique: We can clearly say that his most attracting skill is his athleticism. Mbabu can be effective both in defense and offense thanks to his physics (184 cm and 80 kg), speed, power, agility and dynamism.
Challenges: One of the most important advantages of Mbabu’s athletic physique is the success rate of his challenges. Mbabu has an obvious advantage over his opponents in challenges. He wins 61% of 21 challenges and 71% of 4,4 air challenges per match. With the help of his power and speed, he shows success in challenges. Also with the help of his agility and jumping ability, he does not lose air challenges easily.
Tackling: His another strength in defense is his tackling ability. He can react quickly to opponent wingers’ dribbling attempts. The Swiss player, who has powerful sliding tackles, can also make very effective interceptions. The fact that we should focus on about his tackles that he has very high success rate in his tackles: 4.8 tackle attempts per game with 80% success rate.
Crossing: The young player draws attention with his ability to play and contribute both side of the play. At the most of the games that his team dominates the game and create pressure over opponent, his heat map intensifies on 2nd and 3rd zone of the pitch. As a result of that, he can get opportunity to make offensive actions. For instance, he cross the ball 5 times per match with 30% accuracy. Besides, he tries 2 key passes per game and deliver 60% of them successfully.
Dribbling: His another offensive ability is his dribblings. He has much more powerful dribbling skill than an average right-back. Owing to that, he attempts to dribble 6 times per game and completes 55% of them. So, there is no doubt that Mbabu can strengthen his manager’s hand in offensive actions.
Weaknesses: (Concentration, Positioning, Short Pass Quality)
Concentration: Kevin Mbabu has concentration problem from time to time during the game and this can cause a handicap, especially in defensive side. Depending on this problem, he can be more likely to make mistakes. But we have to mention that when his first times at YB, he had been facing this problem more. So, he has been improving himself about this day by day.
Positioning: As a consequence of his concentration problem, we can testify that sometimes the young footballer can face with difficulty to take position in defense. In positional opponent attacks, especially when an opponent player uses the “half-space” area, he can lose his position and he cannot defend opponent player as how he exactly has to. Besides, in some positions, after he supports to his teams attack, he can get in trouble to turn back in defense, particularly in opponent counter-attacks. But it should be noted that he usually reacts well when it comes to turn back to defense, when the opponent team attempts to make counter-attacks.
Short Pass Quality: The last thing we have to point out that he has to improve his short pass quality. He plays with average 75% of pass accuracy per game. One of the important reasons why his pass accuracy is not higher than 75% that, he sometimes cannot deliver the short passes to his teammates because he cannot adjust the quality of his passes. If he improves the severity, angle and efficiency of his short passes, it will be a positive development for his career progress.
Similar Players: Michael Lang, Kyle Walker
The 22 year-old defender shows similarities with Basel’s right back Michael Lang in terms of the contribution to the both sides of pitch, dominance of the challenges and playing style. Also Mbabu’s dynamism, effectiveness in offensive actions and agility reminds us Manchester City’s successful player Kyle Walker, even if they’re not at the same level.