Maxime Chanot leaving New York City FC to join AC Ajaccio in the French second division came as a shock, a legendary player in the team’s history leaving out of the blue with just a handful of matches remaining in the season.
Also shocking: Chanot’s decision to break his over-four-years-long silence on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter in order to share a few cryptic messages about his NYCFC exit.
Before this week’s news of his move to Ajaccio, Chanot last posted on the site Elon Musk wants you to refer to as X way back before the COVID era. It was Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 to be exact.
The day his departure for Corsica was confirmed, Chanot logged into his protected account (meaning you have to be approved by Maxime himself to follow, and you can’t freely and widely amplify his posts) and shared his first new post in 1,591 days.
That post was an uncaptioned photo of the defender smiling and holding up a coaching license he earned from US Soccer in front of the NYCFC badge, likely taken inside one of NYCFC’s facilities.
Speculation ran wild as to the meaning behind Chanot sharing this photo. Was it an “I’ll be back” hint meant to make fans believe the beloved Luxembourg international will return after his playing days are over to start a coaching career with NYCFC?
Was it, perhaps, a coded message of disapproval aimed at the club and its current coaching staff, a subtweet? (If these things are still actually called “tweets”?)
Whatever the intended meaning may have been, Chanot appears to have developed second thoughts, as he has since deleted the coaching license photo.
Taking down that post wasn’t the end of Chanot’s newfound interest in X/Twitter, and his next post was far more explosive.
In the early morning hours in New York following NYCFC’s 2-0 win over CF Montréal in the team’s first official post-Chanot match, Maxime quote-tweeted a clip of coach Nick Cushing’s post-match press conference shared by Leocciano Callao of Skyscraper Blues, and added some startling commentary.
That certainly reads like Chanot throwing shade in the direction of NYCFC’s leadership, and brings up the question if the split between he and the team was entirely amicable.
Cushing mentioned Chanot while praising the performances of Birk Risa and Thiago Martins, the defenders who are expected to be regular starters for the foreseeable future, with the coach lamenting the difficult week that duo had while adjusting to life without their veteran teammate and mentor.
Chanot appears to have taken exception to Cushing’s statement, and that has opened a whole can of worms and inspired a new round of speculation about what’s really gone on behind the scenes and inside the NYCFC dressing room.
The parting between the team and Chanot was cast as a decision driven by Chanot, who wanted to play “close to home” and take this last opportunity to see his family more during his final days as a professional athlete.
Sporting director David Lee rarely speaks to the media, but he issues comments in every press release shared about player transactions. Lee said of Chanot leaving, “While we would have preferred to wait until the end of the season, we felt it was right to accept the wishes of a player that has given us such great service over the years.”
Cushing, when addressing the difficulty of Chanot’s departure, said of the player’s move to Ajaccio “he had many reasons why this moment was critical for him, to play in his home…we have to show respect to what he’s given us.”
By so publicly taking exception to Cushing’s post-match comment about the team’s “difficult moment,” Chanot has rekindled the speculation that there was some sort of falling-out. Whether that was with the coaching staff, the front office, a player, or another person is pure speculation at this point.
But maybe an Instagram post from the defender provides us with another hint. Just minutes ago, Chanot added a post full of thanks for “the passionate fans of New York City,” and “all my teammates and my coaches since 2016.” He also took pains to add “a special thank you to David Lee who did an exceptional job at this club over all these years and who allowed us to reach the success we all know.”
It remains unknown and unknowable what exactly went on.
While we will hopefully eventually get more clarity on the situation from the player himself, for now, Chanot’s social media activity is making this seem like a more contentious split than NYCFC’s official comments lead you to believe.