Photo Credit: Camfoot.com
Going back to July, New York Red Bulls faced off against storied French side Lyon in a friendly game at Red Bull Arena. What happened during the game didn't really matter, but what happened after did. MLS Transfers picked up on Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke talking to then 19 year old Clinton N'Jie. Here's the original tweet from July 16, 2013:
MLSTransfers: Petke overheard talking to Clinton N'Jie after #RBNYvLyon game in hallway. Source says he was gauging his interest in NY
This certainly seemed like nothing at the time. Petke can talk to any player he wants to and can ask any player if they wanted to play in New York. It certainly didn't mean much at the time, but for some reason, I decided to follow up on this original report and found some interesting information.
After reaching out for some weeks, a source connected to Camfoot.com, a trustworthy Cameroonian soccer website, has said that Clinton is looking for first team playing time to help him excel his career and his chance with the U-23 Cameroon side. One of the teams high on N'Jie's list? New York Red Bulls. This could be for several reasons:
Marius Obekop could be playing a big role in this decision. The little used winger has somewhat deep connections to Clinton as they are both from Cameroon. According to the source, Obekop is "friendly" with Clinton and they've both been in U-18 Cameroonian national team camp before. Clinton could be looking for a place to play where he knows and feels comfortable with someone in the club. It would also be a big struggle to adapt to a city such as New York so having someone around the same age would help him adjust to living in one of the biggest cities in the world.
Gerard Houllier might also have a hand in this. He was Lyon manager from 2005 to 2007 and still might have some connections to the club. He supposedly helped set up the Red Bulls and Lyon friendly and is connected with clubs all around Europe and specifically France. No doubt he knows of N'Jie's situation and could be monitoring it for a possible loan spell. It should also be said current New York Red Bulls striker/midfielder Peguy Luyindula has suited up for Lyon in 126 games over 3 seasons and could play a part in the discussions/negotiation process.
Not only that, but according to this report by Olympique-et-lyonnais.com published on August 25th, Clinton seemed to be in line with a loan move out of the club. He stated, "...a loan? I let my agent handle that. I try to focus on my game, we'll see more..." Nothing happened before the summer window closed and since, N'Jie hasn't made any first team appearances.
It should also be noted Clinton recently signed a new deal with Lyon in July and his contract expires in June of 2016. Clinton's value according to transfermarkt.com is 400,000 euros.
Not saying anything is done or that the club is even in discussions, just bringing up a few points that could potentially see one of Lyon's rising stars come play in the biggest city in the world.
-Marc Kusant @TheRedestBull