Chancel Mbemba had his work cut out this season.
A 20 year old bought in from the Belgian league, with the expectation he was single-handedly going to sort out a defence that had been one of the worst in the Premier League for years.
He couldn’t quite manage that and sadly his very decent first season in the Premier League was predictably lost within the chaos of the season, then eventual relegation.
Having to play alongside the likes of Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, Chancel Mbemba battled away against the odds.
Despite Gini Wijnaldum’s 11 goals from midfield, the clear consensus amongst Newcastle fans was that the DR Congo centre-back had proved to be Newcastle’s best signing of summer 2015.
After being almost totally ignored, Jamaal Lascelles was belatedly paired with Chancel Mbemba by Rafa Benitez and suddenly Newcastle looked to have a centre-half pairing that could potentially be a real rock to build from next season and beyond.
As a further sign of Mbemba’s personal contribution last season, in stats published today, only five other Premier League players made more interceptions than the Newcastle defender last season.
Chancel Mbemba making 94 over the course of the season, plus he missed five games through injury.
Along with Andros Townsend, Mbemba and Lascelles make up the trio of players that Newcastle fans would arguably most like to see stay this summer.
Most interceptions in the Premier League 2015/16 – Stats compiled by the Express:
139 Surman (Bournemouth)
105 Francis (Bournemouth)
102 Koscielny (Arsenal)
96 Walker (Tottenham)
96 Gueye (Aston Villa)
94 Mbemba (Newcastle)
94 Smalling (Man Utd)
93 Noble (West Ham)
92 Williams (Swansea)
90 Kouyate (West Ham)