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Very strange case of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa : Effectively retired at 27 – Now 7 years later making comeback

2 weeks ago
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At the age of 23, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was one of those recruited in that bizarre January 2013 transfer window by Newcastle United.

By that time, he had already made 149 first team starts in league matches, helped Montpelier be league title winners, plus played for France.

Since signing for Newcastle United in a £7m deal in January 2013, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa went on to make only another 101 first team league starts, in his career!

The Mag Issue 276 9 February 2013

Issue 276 – 9 February 2013

After 28 league starts for Newcastle United, the club got roughly their money back when selling him to AS Roma.

After 22 league starts for the Serie A club, he moved on once again for a similar transfer fee as Newcastle and Roma had paid, back to France and 51 more league starts for Lyon.

Then, nothing.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa saw his contract at Lyon eventually run out in 2020 and then he disappeared, in terms of playing football.

Until now…

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa turning up once again, at the age of 34 having signed for French side Istres FC and played his first match this weekend, a 2-0 away win against Gallia Lucciana who are based in Corsica.

Maritama report – 5 February 2024:

“The project is interesting and I wanted to get back onto the pitch.

“I will bring my experience and pass it on to young people .

“After Lyon, I rested and enjoyed my family and friends.”

Even though Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa didn’t leave Lyon until 2020, he actually effectively retired back in 2017 at the age of 27, as that was when he last started a first team league match. Just turning out for Lyon’s reserve side after that, whilst picking up Ligue 1 first team wages.

No wonder he was able to in 2020 to decide to ‘enjoy’ time with his friends and family.

Interesting to look at exactly what level Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is now playing at.

We are so used to the sheer scale of the league system in England, just how many divisions / leagues and how deep it goes.

Over in France you have:

Ligue 1 with 18 clubs

Ligue 2 with 20 clubs

After that it then becomes semi-professional…

National league with 18 clubs

National 2 with 56 clubs divided into four groups of 14 clubs

National 3 with 154 clubs divided into eleven groups of 14 clubs

So after the 112 clubs in the top four levels (seven divisions), we then find Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Istres FC amongst these 154 clubs in the next level.

I wonder if he regrets these last seven or so years and wonders what might have been, if having the desire to match what was clearly a talented player?

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