Clubs hold back on spending big bucks during the transfer window.
The deal that could have lit up this month’s player transfer window in domestic football collapsed spectacularly when Mamelodi Sundowns offered SuperSport United less than R10 million for defender Aubrey Modiba, City Press has learnt.
While SuperSport chief executive Stan Matthews confirmed last week that the player and the club “declined the offer” from the defending Absa Premiership champions, he refused to divulge further details.
City Press, however, has been reliably informed by those privy to the futile negotiations between the two clubs that Sundowns had put an offer of “slightly less than R10 million” on the table for the 24-year-old Bafana Bafana player.
In their last big-money deal, Sundowns are believed to have paid SuperSport about R10 million for striker Jeremy Brockie in the 2018 January transfer window.
The Brazilians reportedly forked out the same amount for Sibusiso Vilakazi from Bidvest Wits in July 2016, and about R15 million for Rivaldo Coetzee from Ajax Cape Town in August 2017.
“Yes, there was interest from Sundowns. We did have discussions; the player also had discussions with Sundowns. The net result of it was that we declined their offer and he declined their offer. There is no more talk of Aubrey Modiba going to Sundowns,” Matthews told the media at SuperSport’s training grounds last week.
“He’s committed himself to an extended contract. He’ll be with us for four-and-a-half years.”
Efforts to reach Sundowns’ legal and commercial officer Yogesh Singh were unsuccessful as he didn’t answer calls or respond to a text message.
Meanwhile, this month’s transfer window is usually not one of the busiest periods as far as player movement is concerned.
Apart from defender Lorenzo Gordinho’s move from Kaizer Chiefs to Wits last week, there haven’t been many cash transactions.
“The industry has changed from what it was 10 to 15 years ago,” observed top player representative Mike Makaab.
The Prosport International founder said that “only a handful of clubs can afford to chase and sign top players”.
“South Africa is under immense competition from the rest of Africa,” noted Makaab, who brokered Gordinho’s transfer and was involved in Vilakazi and Coetzee’s mega deals.
“January is really meant for peculiar transfers. It’s normally about players whose contracts are ending in six months and the clubs would try to get a little money in an effort to avoid losing their players on a free transfer.
“Lorenzo is one of those situations. He had six months left on his contract and he would have been a free agent, but his transfer involved a fair sum of money. It was because of his early release to Wits that Chiefs saved at least four to five months of [paying his] salary, while they put a value [to Gordinho’s transfer].”
In a bid to avoid spending more, most clubs have resorted to signing pre-contracts with players, especially those whose contracts end in six months. Fifa allows clubs and players to enter into such negotiations.
SuperSport have already snapped up Stellenbosch FC talismanic striker Iqraam Rayners on a pre-contract.
The 24-year-old will link up with Matsatsantsa a Pitori next season.
Former Wits chief executive José Ferreira also weighed in on the business of buying and selling players.
He agreed with Makaab about the latest trends in the local market.
“January is obviously the slowest [transfer window] because you won’t get free players – most of them are under contract. The market opens up at the end of the season,” said Ferreira, who has been credited with acquiring most of the top players at Wits on free transfers over the years.
“The market is extremely expensive. In January, you also mostly get players who have been released by the clubs. To buy [players] is a bit problematic because most clubs rely on monthly grants.”
Ferreira said the other way to go was to acquire better quality outside the country for a guaranteed lower asking price – such as importing a player from Zimbabwe.
“The secret to survival is for clubs – whether big or small – to invest in development.”
Although Chiefs signed Kenyan international Anthony Akumu from Zambian club Zesco United recently, Amakhosi have promoted a number of young players from their reserve team over the past few seasons.
Akumu will be one of the few prominent new signings during this window unless Sundowns flash the cash ahead of the deadline day on Friday.
Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates confirmed last week that the club loaned out the duo of Justice Chabalala and Tebogo Tlolane to Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg United, respectively.
Both players will be away for the remainder of the season.