Maxime Chanot was the longest-serving member of NYCFC. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Another key member of New York City FC’s 2021 MLS Cup championship side has departed the club.

The MLS team announced that center back Maxime Chanot will join French Ligue 2 side AC Ajaccio.

Chanot arrived in New York in 2016 and became a staple at the heart of the NYCFC defense. Departing as the club’s longest-serving player at more than seven years, he played 199 games, scoring 10 goals and providing one assist across all competitions.

He is among several high-profile players who have left the club over the past two seasons, including striker Taty Castellanos and center back partner Alex Callens.

“I have made the difficult decision to go back home to Corsica,” Chanot said in a statement. “I left home when I was 14, it has been almost 20 years, and I was presented with the opportunity to play in front of my family, which I have never done. Until this opportunity arose, I never thought I would leave New York City, I love it here and have had the best years of my life here. When I first signed, I made a promise to only leave the Club after helping bring a championship to this great City and its passionate fans and believe I have delivered on that promise.

“There are so many memories that I will take with me. I arrived as a young kid, having the opportunity to play with legends of the game like David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, it was like a dream for me. The 2021 MLS Cup championship was like a Hollywood movie, winning the cup with that special group of players, after playing together for such a long time, is something I will always remember. Also, my time in New York, not only on the pitch but off of it, I’ve met so many great people. I am proud to say I am leaving this Club and this City as a man.

“To the fans, thank you for all the support you have given me over the last seven seasons, I have felt all your love. I want you to know that my heart is blue, I have given my all to this Club every single day. I want to thank David Lee for supporting me and making me a part of his family, also to City Football Group, all my teammates throughout the years and the coaches I have been fortunate to play for. I wish this Club all the best the remainder of this season and in the future, I will be watching every game and cheering you on from afar.”

The Luxembourg international teamed with Callens to play a vital role in bringing the club’s first piece of silverware in 2021. Playing every single minute of the playoff championship run including a standout performance in MLS Cup final in Portland. A year later, Chanot lifted another trophy for NYCFC, captaining the side in the 2022 Campeones Cup, in a victory over Mexican side Atlas FC.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Maxime over the past seven seasons and we are sad to be saying farewell to him and his family,” sporting director David Lee said in a statement. “We will miss him greatly around the training facility, the impact he’s made for this Club both on-and-off the field cannot be underestimated.

“Maxime will go down as a New York City legend, his leadership and impact was felt as soon as he arrived, it’s clear he cares deeply for this Club and has made it his home. He has been with NYCFC during his prime and has given the best years of his career to this organization.

“We understand this was an extremely difficult and emotional decision for Maxime and his family. 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. Ultimately, we understand this was a unique opportunity for him, and one that wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t accepted now. Everyone at New York would like to thank Maxime for everything he has given to this Club and this City, we wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at