Confirmation from Chateauneuf du-Tyne and from the player himself has Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa signing for Newcastle today.
Subsequently, there’s a lot of handwringing over why Arsenal didn’t sign Yanga-Mbiwa. The player was followed by Arsenal last season and was the subject of a bid from the Gunners this summer. Clearly, the interest was there on the part of the London team, so what happened.
First there was the interview with Canal+ in May in which the Frenchman revealed his first choice destination:
To play for Manchester United would be a great satisfaction and a dream which could become reality. Arsenal, also, is a big team.
Despite being listed as also-rans in the Mbiwa sweepstakes, Arsenal soldiered on with their interest in the player, tabling a bid in the summer transfer window which was reportedly accepted by Montpellier. The Frenchman, however, had his heart set on AC Milan this time and apparently, rejected Arsenal.
The chairman told me I have an agreement to leave. AC Milan came for me. But the chairman refused the offer. So I understood it would be difficult.
Arsenal came to make an attempt. But I was focused on something else. I was disappointed when I understood it could not be sorted out with Milan. The chairman is our boss, our godfather, the one who educated us and gave us an opportunity. We have to show respect.
And now he has made the switch to Newcastle to help them in their relegation battle, just a few months after agreeing to a contract extension at Montpellier which saw a nice bump in wages for Mapou. This has prompted Montpellier’s owner Louis Nicollin, “the godfather”, to publicly remark that,
If he’s an ass, it’s not my fault, but I think his agent has a lot to do with it. Newcastle really isn’t a good choice. He’ll get himself moved on next year, but it doesn’t bother me. His head was no longer at Montpellier, but it’s not a problem.
Last year, they contributed greatly to the title, but both Mapou and Belhanda are not the chief architects of our current season. Far from it. I would have been more unhappy if lads like Cabella or Stambouli had asked to leave. Belhanda and Mapou, it was already done and dusted in our minds. I’m not angry with anyone even if certain people have shown a clear lack of professionalism given the salaries they wanted.
To recap, Yanga-Mbiwa used interest from Arsenal to try to generate interest from clubs he would rather sign for (Man U and AC Milan) and when neither of those materialized, rejected Arsenal and garnered himself a fat new paycheck at Montpellier. Then he spent a few months showing a “clear lack of professionalism” and with all the bridges behind him alight, sped off to Newcastle.
There is no doubt in my mind that Yanga-Mbiwa sees Newcastle as an opportunity to increase his profile in order to get the move he really wants, to AC Milan or Man U. Newcastle probably see it as a great chance to make a few million as well.
Someone at Arsenal must have decided that Arsenal don’t need to make a few million selling Mbiwa to United next season.