Joseph Minala: What happened to Lazio's 17-year-old wonderkid?

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Most of you probably remember the name Joseph Minala.

If you don’t, let us provide a quick reminder.

The 17-year-old Cameroonian midfielder signed for Lazio back in 2014 but was immediately accused of actually being 42-years-old.

An African football website suggested that the Cameroonian midfielder was 25 years older than he was claiming - something that led to an official investigation from the Italian Football Association.

But the youngster was cleared and on April 4, 2014, made his debut for the Italian club at the age of just 17, wearing the number nine shirt.

He looked set for big things given his incredible physique at such a young age.

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But it hasn’t quite worked out like that.

After making three Serie A appearances during the 2013/14 campaign when he was just 17, Minala has been out on loan to a variety of Serie B clubs including Bari and Latina.

He spent three consecutive seasons at Salernitana with the club having the option to sign him permanently. However, following last season, they opted not to take up that option.
He returned to Lazio but, last year, went out on loan to Chinese club Qingdao Huanghai.

He spent the Chinese season with Qingdao Huanghai as they finished 7th out of eight teams.

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Come January, he will return to Lazio at the age of 24.

Recently, Minala gave an interview insisting that he wanted to be given a chance at the club he joined seven years ago.

"Until January, I will try to keep fit," he said. "If I happen to have an opportunity with Lazio, I will take it as I always have. I am ready for any challenge, and I hope that the next one will be with the Biancocelesti. I want to show the club that I have matured; I hope to finally have my chance to show how much I am worth.

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Minala played 13 times but failed to register an assist or score a goal during his time in China and admitted it was difficult during the coronavirus global pandemic.

"China has managed to keep the championship on its feet, guaranteeing everyone’s health," he said of the Covid situation. "Also, the team has achieved its goal. I am happy to have given my contribution. It was not easy; especially after being off for several months."

Minala’s Lazio contract expires in June 2021 and he will be doing everything in his power to ensure the club extend it beyond next summer.

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