Lyon's Orel Mangala acknowledges the crowd
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Orel Mangala: Lyon's newest Belgian

Orel Mangala: Lyon's newest Belgian

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Publish on 02/27 at 15:30 - E. DEVIN

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Orel Mangala is one of several Belgium-based players to join the Rhone club in recent months -- learn more about the midfielder ahead of his side's match in the Coupe de France this evening.

OL are banking on a big return from Belgium sector this season! In what is a very international squad, Orel Mangala, who joined on loan from Nottingham Forest, is lining up alongside Gift Orban, Clinton Mata and Malick Fofana at Olympique Lyonnais as players of Belgian nationality or who have played in the Jupiler Pro League. “Belgians or players from the Belgian league adapt well to Ligue 1 Uber Eats and even elsewhere: they are French-speaking and, automatically, integration is much easier,” explains the sporting director of Olympique Lyonnais, David Friio. “This league is closely watched. The players are used to European matches and playing at a high level.

Olympique Lyonnais was delighted to have been able to “sign the players that (the club) wanted, mainly (its) number one and number two choices. It turned out that they either came from the Belgian league, or that they were of Belgian nationality, like Orel,” added Friio. “The image of the club has not been tarnished by the current bad situation. It was very positive for us,” he said, remarking on the team's mercato. In addition to the Angolan defender Clinton Mata (30 years old), recruited from Club Bruges this summer, striker Malick Fofana (18 years old) arrived from Gent, as did Nigerian Gift Orban (21 years old).

There's also the Irish center back, Jake O'Brien (22 years old), who participated last season in the promotion to the Belgian elite of RWD Molenbeek, a club in the Eagle Football group led by John Textor, who became the owner and president of Olympique Lyonnais in December 2022. The Molenbeek club also allowed the loan of the Ghanaian Ernest Nuamah, after having acquired him for 25 million euros from the Danish side Nordsjaelland.

“The French league is a little underrated”

Before them, several players from the Belgian top flight have played in Lyon. Among the long history between OL and France's neighbor to the north, in the 1980s the Congolese Pombolo Sadi Wa and Eugène Kabongo, arrived respectively from Seraing and Anderlecht, leading the way and contributing to the return to the top flight by the Rhone club following its acquisition by Jean-Michel Aulas (1987).

International right-back Eric Deflandre (ex-Bruges) won the Coupe de la Ligue and was three times French champion between 2000 and 2004, before defender Jason Denayer, who has won 35 caps with the Red Devils, wore the armband of OL during his time in the Rhône (2018-2022).

“The French league is interesting and a little underrated for my taste. Good players are coming out and there are some great teams. There is a very good level,” said Orel Mangala, affirming that “Lyon remained attractive in terms of its beautiful history and its infrastructure The club deserves better than its place in the table and the project of bringing it up interested me. With Forest, I experienced a bit of pressure to play and I gained that experience,” he explains.

Tonight, he will try to build on his good debut in Lyon to maintain the good momentum of the Lyonnais as they take part in the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France following four consecutive victories in Ligue 1 Uber Eats.

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