What happened to Joseph Minala? Lazio's 17-year-old wonderkid who was reportedly 42

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A lot was expected of Joseph Minala when he joined Lazio in 2013.

The Cameroonian footballer made headlines when he signed for the Italian club aged 17. However, in a truly bizarre story, he was immediately accused of being 42.

Minala had an incredibly physique for someone so young - something that undoubtedly saw people wrongly accuse him of lying about his age.

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

However, in April 2014, he was cleared of any wrongdoing and, at the real age of 17, made his debut for the Serie A giants.

For any player to play in the top-flight in a major league at the age of 17 shows just how talented they are. Big things were expected of Minala especially given his physical strengths.

However, after making three appearances at the end of the 2013/14 campaign at such a young age, Minala hasn’t been able to fulfil his incredible potential.

He was loaned out to several Serie B clubs including Bari and Latina before spending three consecutive seasons at Salernitana. Despite playing 67 times for Salernitana, the club opted not to take the option of a permanent deal and Minala trudged back to Rome.

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However, then came a new opportunity for him. Chinese Super League club Qingdao Huanghai offered him a loan deal for the 2020 season. However, the midfielder’s luck didn’t really change as he played 15 times in the league as the side finished 7th out of eight teams.

At the end of his loan in China in January 2021, Minala once again returned to Lazio. However, his contract at the Italian club expires at the end of the season and, according to Transfermarkt, he will be released.

While it appears Minala’s eight years contracted at Lazio is coming to an end, he recently gave an interview insisting he will do all he can to prove his worth to the club.

"If I happen to have an opportunity with Lazio, I will take it as I always have," he said. "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."

It will be interesting to see the next chapter in Minala’s career. Is a club willing to take a chance on this one-time wonderkid? After all, he’s still only 24.

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