Outspoken Montpellier president Louis Nicollin has branded Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa "an ass" and says his decision to join Newcastle United is "not a good choice."
Yanga-Mbiwa, 23, is expected to fly into Tyneside on Tuesday for a medical before completing the move, and swelling still further the French element within Alan Pardew's squad. Nicollin believes the talented centre-back is making a mistake, and St. James' Park will prove nothing more than a stepping stone at best.
"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," Nicollin told lequipe.fr. "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."
A two-year extension signed in November on a deal which originally expired at the end of the current campaign will ensure Montpellier get some €8 million for the French international, who joined the club in 2005, moving through to the first team and the national side from the youth academy. Last summer, Yanga-Mbiwa had already made public his desire to quit the Ligue 1 champions, and was reportedly close to a move to AC Milan before Nicollin vetoed the switch.
Yanga-Mbiwa is set to be joined on the way out of the Stade de la Mosson by playmaker Younes Belhanda, who - while he plays for Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations - has representatives involved in talks with Fenerbahce, according to French media.
A talented but temperamental product of the club's youth academy, Belhanda, 22, has struggled to re-find the form of last season when he played an instrumental role in bringing the French title to Montpellier for the very first time. Though Nicollin recently declared Belhanda and Montpellier were "finished", the colourful millionaire club-owner suggested he would not be happy selling the €12 million-rated midfielder to anyone outside the Premier League and the Bundesliga.
"He can go too, but apart from the Turks I don't know who wants him. Turkey is complicated [for getting financial guarantees]. He won't go there, it's not possible. There's only England and Germany where I will always sell my players," Nicollin said, adding he would not be unhappy to see the back of both players.
"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 [Remy] Cabella or [Benjamin] 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."