Intriguing days ahead as PSL window prepares to slam shut
It promises to be an interesting final few days of the South African transfer window, with some of the top names in the Premier Soccer League angling for a move before 31 August, but many may miss out.
Two of the most high-profile wantaways are reigning PSL Player of the Season Lebogang Manyama at Cape Town City, and SuperSport United's New Zealand international forward Jeremy Brockie. Both are on the wanted list of Mamelodi Sundowns, among others, who certainly could afford them if pushed, but look likely to be disappointed.
Brockie put in a transfer request last week to try and force the move, but that was rejected by SuperSport, a risky game from the Tshwane club as they could potentially have an unhappy player on their hands. The Kiwi always comes across as a good professional though, and perhaps SuperSport CEO Stan Matthews is banking on that fact when he does his calculations.
Matsatsantsa are desperate not to be a selling club and have genuine title ambitions this season. The outstanding Brockie is the jewel in the crown and his goals will be vital to their silverware chances - including in the CAF Confederation Cup this season. That he was left out of the squad for the MTN8 semifinal first leg against Maritzburg United on Saturday night perhaps indicates a belief that his focus is not quite right though, and SuperSport certainly felt his absence as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home.
The club are sticking to their guns though and, having made an emphatic statement on Sunday over the player's future, it would be a major back-track from them should they allow Brockie to join Sundowns.
"The club would like to officially confirm that Jeremy Brockie handed in a transfer request last week which the SuperSport United board has rejected. The Matsatsantsa striker will NOT be sold to any club at any price," the statement read.
So that might well be that, then.
Manyama was also left out of his side's MTN8 semifinal first leg, against Bidvest Wits on Sunday, a game City won 1-0. Coach Benni McCarthy says he believes the player is not in the right head-space, with the latest speculation being a prospective bid from Turkey before the end of the deadline.
"I kept him in the team against Platinum Stars [on Wednesday] and I didn't see the performance I had hoped for. He has been at training every day this week, but I just feel like his mind is elsewhere," McCarthy told reporters after the Wits win on Sunday.
"And that can happen when you have a lot of talk about other clubs interested in you, you can lose that focus. I just felt that I would rather have players in the team [against Wits] who I know are 100 percent focussed on the job."
City owner John Comitis has repeatedly said he will not sell Manyama to the local market and it would take some climb-down for him to do so now. But he does appear open to the Turkey sale if he can get his price, adding he would not want to stand in the way of the player's chance to further his career overseas.
The sticking point now may be that Manyama has linked up with the South African national team ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifier away in Cape Verde on Friday. That would make any prospective medical ahead of a move difficult, though not impossible. The recent failure of Rivaldo Coetzee to complete his dream move to Glasgow Celtic is a telling reminder of how deals can collapse even when they appear done.
Wits could be the busiest team in the final few days of the transfer window, with coach Gavin Hunt saying he needs to "balance the books" after the arrival of Egyptian forward Amr Gamal.
"There will be three or four gone and one or two in, that's for sure. We're going to do something, we have to. We have to balance the books," Hunt said on Sunday.
Hunt would not be drawn on names, or even positions, but candidates to leave include defender Nazeer Allie, midfielder Xola Mlambo, and forward Eleazar Rodgers.
Perhaps there could be something in the offing for talented youngster Phakamani Mahlambi, who failed in his bid to win a contract at Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes, but was curiously left out of the Wits squad in Cape Town on Sunday.
It was a pitch, and a game, that was perfectly suited to his talents, and he was in the squad for the midweek draw at Free State Stars after returning from Portugal. Hunt would only say that Mahlambi was still part of his squad, but offered no explanation for his absence.