Montpelier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is expected on Tyneside to undergo a medical examination on Tuesday after weather delayed a flight that was supposed to bring the 23 year-old in on Monday. That's the official story, according to Luke Edwards of The Telegraph, but given Arsene Wenger's stated interest and the recent Loic Remy deal that fell through after Queens Park Rangers offered him a stack of cash, fears are that Yanga-Mbiwa may be headed to London after all.
Newcastle won the rights to speak to their long-term target with a £6.7 million bid (according to most reports), and the player agreed to personal terms shortly afterward, but nothing's final until pen is put to paper, and there is reason to believe Wenger could still swoop in, if he so desires. Yanga-Mbiwa turned some heads this summer when he implied that Newcastle is not his intended final destination, telling Lee Ryder of The Chronicle:
Newcastle would be a great opportunity for me, and I would hope that eventually I could join Milan. Joining Newcastle before Milan would give me the chance to mature even more and gain more experience.
In fact, MYM would go on to mention Arsenal by name in a separate interview with Canal Plus:
To play forwould be a great satisfaction and a dream which could become reality. , also, is a big team. Marseille also, despite their difficulties, remains very attracting. I would never have thought Marseille would follow me.
It would appear that Yanga-Mbiwa has his opportunity to move to a big club if he wants it. It will be interesting to see if (a) Mapou goes through with his medical even if other teams continue to express interest, and (b) the Newcastle supporters that called Remy a "mercenary" for joining QPR will change their tune if MYM's signature is captured.
Meanwhile, Montpelier President Louis Nicollin is not happy with Yanga-Mbiwa. In a recent interview with L'Equipe, he called the player "an ass" and reinforced the idea that Yanga-Mbiwa will constantly be on the lookout for greener pastures.
If he's an ass, it's not my fault, but I think his manager 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. He agreed with my son [Laurent, Montpellier's delegated president] that he could leave if he found a club he liked. We're not going to cry. His head was no longer at Montpellier, but it's not a problem. He's not irreplaceable. The important thing is that we get some money in.
[via ESPN Soccernet]
Many have assumed that the pending purchase, if completed, signals the imminent departure of captain Fabricio Coloccini back to Argentina. If so, I'll be disappointed that Newcastle couldn't find a more permanent solution. Yanga-Mbiwa is young, and the general idea behind buying young players is to develop them in order to benefit from their peak years. All indications are that MYM will have moved on two or three times by the time he reaches 27. Perhaps Mike Ashley views him as an investment opportunity - pump his value in the most visible league in the world, then sell him on for a profit. It's a good bit of business if you can make it work.
Then again, perhaps I'm looking at this a bit too cynically. Newcastle are in a relegation battle, after all, and the bottom line is that Yanga-Mbiwa's signing bolsters a back line that needs as much help as it can get. If Coloccini does leave, it's not the new player's fault. If he stays, at the very least there's some new competition for the right to be his partner in defense. In the end, that's more than enough to make me happy.