Porto defender and former Newcastle United centre-half Chancel Mbemba has claimed that both Rangers and Celtic tried to sign him after an ill-fated spell at St. James’ Park.
Congolese international Mbemba, now 25, spent three seasons at Newcastle after joining the club for a reported £8m back in 2015.
But Mbemba struggled to settle in England and after some disappointing performances was eventually sold to Porto for a reported £7.1m, meaning his last two transfers have raked in £15.1m.
The high-cost of that transfer to Porto could well be one of the main reasons why any Rangers or Celtic interest didn’t materialise.
“I know British football from my time at Newcastle and this won’t be an easy night for us against Rangers,” said Mbemba, speaking ahead of Rangers tie with Porto in the Europa League [Daily Record].
“Scottish football has improved in the last few years.
“The result in Rotterdam was a return to reality for us. We have to be fully focused for the match in Glasgow now.
“There was interest from Rangers and Celtic when I was at Newcastle but a deal wasn’t possible.
“I’m now happy in Porto and hope for an excellent season.
“We’ve watched Rangers and it’s clear that they’re a strong team. Morelos and Defoe are dangerous forwards with quality. But our defenders are prepared for this.
“Our challenge is to progress to the next stage of the Europa League and to do this we need a positive result against Rangers.”
Mbemba’s struggles with life in Newcastle may have meant that either side of the Old Firm was willing to take such a high-cost risk with Chancel Mbemba last season.
Both clubs could well have been trying to broker a loan deal which didn’t happen after Porto put up the cash for the player’s services.
Whatever the case, Mbemba himself claims that Rangers and Celtic wanted him in Glasgow.