After Arsenal secured the summer signing of Olivier Giroud, there is another player that the Gunners should be looking to move for: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. If the first explains why Montpellier had the best goal scoring record of the league, the second could be pointed to as the reason for their very good defensive record.
The defender, aged 23, is in his sixth season as a professional for the club, his fourth only at the top level. Born in Bangui, Central African Republic, he then grew up in France near Marseille where all his family settled down. He quickly caught the eye of the Montpellier scouts and joined their youth system in 2005.
He played his first two full seasons as left back, showing great consistency in the process and obtaining promotion to the top tier in June 2009. There, confronted with a new coach and despite being right-footed, he began his Ligue 1 career as a right back, but finished the campaign as a centre back where he still holds position. He imposed himself as an all-rounder, now settled in the axis but able to have efficient spells on the wings when the coach feels the need.
He is a true defensive all-rounder, having played professionally at every of the four available spots in a four man back line. Now being top of the table and providing delightful performances, Montpellier will want to pursue the dream till the end of the season. Seeing their best players quoted in many transfer rumors may be flattering for them, but also very dangerous for the club.
He is a true defensive all-rounder, having played professionally at every of the four available spots in a four men back line.
Montpellier are still relatively low profile, despite their recent success, and are in need of fresh cash to keep the factory going. In a nutshell, they need to sell some talented young players to survive financially. The consequence is that they cannot hold on to this kind of valuable player for too long.
Knowing that there’s only one centre back considered as a starter who is younger than him in the League 1 top clubs (Mamadou Sakho from PSG), and that he played in the French under 21 national side last year, makes Yanga-Mbiwa a very interesting bet for a club with long term plans.
He would surely be quickly up to speed with the physical strikers he would encounter, being himself a quite imposing person and furthermore his integration would be made easier in the squad, thanks to the large French speaking community at Arsenal.
The bottom line seems to be the same as the one previously written for his team mate Olivier Giroud: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa would definitely be a beneficial addition to the Arsenal’s squad and could help them fulfill their European ambitions.
Therefore the key to this possible deal remains in the hands of the Montpellier staff. Will they be ready to make concessions, pocket some easy money during the next transfer window - providing enough for a few years of the club’ survival - and risk to lose their momentum to get back to the mid table struggle everybody was expecting them to be in the first place?
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