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Rumor: Anatole Abang is in Tunisia, talking to Etoile du Sahel

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RBNY's exiled forward is currently on loan to nowhere, but maybe that is about to change.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Mosaique FM reports that Anatole Abang has found his way to Tunisia, where he is in talks with Etoile du Sahel. The report is filed under a picture of Marius Obekop, who is Cameroonian and once played for the New York Red Bulls - much like Abang - but is not the same person as the 20-year-old forward.

Still, other sources echo the suggestion that Abang is close to joining one of Tunisia's top clubs.

[Update: As noted by commenter Ed Ritter below, Tunisia's transfer window is closed until July 1. The Mosaique FM report suggests Abang has "found common ground to break his engagement" with RBNY, implying he might move as a free agent. There is also the possibility a summer transfer is being negotiated - that is the suggestion of this version of the story:

Or, as Ed Ritter also notes, this detail might be the loose thread that unravels the entire rumor.]

Abang has been without a club since his loan from RBNY to Hobro IK was terminated in January. A thwarted deadline-day effort to join another Danish team, Naestved, was the last we have heard of him. The Red Bulls have not provided any update on the player's status: he remains, until we're told otherwise, on loan. But, of course, a player cannot be on loan to nowhere - at least, that is the conventional understanding of the process. RBNY has either innovated a new type of transfer, or there is something about Abang's status at the club we're not being told.

RBNY is under no obligation to say anything about the player: a privilege it has exercised in response to Once A Metro's occasional inquiries. But, for what it's worth, Abang remains listed on the club's official roster. He is even still described as "loaned out".

newyorkredbulls.com

In early February, when stories about Abang's failed transfer to Naestved were raging in the Danish press, Kristian Dyer reported for Metro (no relation) that the player "won't be returning to MLS", per an anonymous source. But there hasn't been a lot of on-the-record discussion of the man by either RBNY or MLS since he moved to Denmark last year.

Back in September, 2016, a couple of weeks after Abang was loaned to Denmark, Ali Curtis - sporting director of RBNY at the time (now also estranged from the club, as it happens) - provided this statement to OaM:

We continue to believe in Anatole as he is a young promising player. The current composition of the first team roster has him on the outside looking in, but this loan opportunity gives him the chance to experience a new environment and get back to the form he had last year. We'll stay in touch with Anatole during the loan monitor his progress.

The official line was Abang had been loaned out to Denmark for playing time and would land back with RBNY in the summer at the end of his loan. Since then, he has made 10 appearance for Hobro IK in the Danish second tier (scoring three goals), and scored his first goal for the Cameroon Men's National Team. Abang was one of the last players cut from the Cameroon squad before the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations - which Cameroon won.

Despite a respectable profile for a young player - the man who arguably took his place in the Cameroon squad for AFCON 2017, Christian Bassogog, was named player of the tournament - and a pleasing highlight reel from his one full season with RBNY...

...the Red Bulls appear to prefer not to talk about Abang at all.

Back in August, 2016, a report from Camfoot.com's Christou Doubena - correctly predicting the player's flight to Denmark but not the club he would land at - told the story of a young player frozen out by his coach (RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch) and ultimately seeking a new team (any new team, is the report's implication) to re-start a stalled career.

One would not expect RBNY to enter into a public debate with an out-of-favor player, but we do know the club has shown little public interest in him since he left, and he has not returned to the squad since the premature end of his loan to Hobro.

And now, we are told, Abang might be looking at a move to Tunisia, to join one of the country's bigger clubs. Etoile du Sahel has won 10 Tunisian league titles and was the CAF Champions League winner in 2007. Currently second in the league in Tunisia, Etoile du Sahel includes well-traveled Algeria international Hameur Bouazza on its roster at the moment.

Abang needs a new team, so any news reports linking him to anywhere serve the general purpose of reminding clubs and agents that he is on the market. The Etoile du Sahel gossip might be little more than timely publicity. Until he does find a place to play, he remains - per RBNY - on loan to nowhere.