The playing standard of Mzansi Diski has improve considerably over the past few years, this improvement may have coincided with the influx of sponsorship and the increased marketability of the Premier League that has attracted millions of Randela’s in sponsorship money and Television rights deals that have allowed clubs to remunerate players better while acquiring the services of players and coaches that serve to improve the pool of talent available in the league as a whole. While all this improvement is slowly translating into a bigger pool of elite level talent to select for our national teams at all levels, it has also given some of our elite level talents less incentive to move abroad and increase their own playing standards after they have shown that they have outgrown the standard of football in Mzansi and can no longer develop further while playing here; place the blame on the clubs for pricing the players out of the market, the players for not wanting to step out of their comfort zones where they are well remunerated, the player representatives for ushering their clients towards racking up the bucks ahead of attaining a higher level of prestige while fulfilling their potential or the entire fraternity as a whole for not inspiring a level of ambition that will help our football grow and be worthy of the status we once held as a football nation. Truth be told, we all have a role to play in this regard and we at GSV took it upon ourselves to present to you a feature that seeks to enlighten you on players that are ready to make that transition and afford themselves an opportunity to grow as footballers while bettering the standard of Mzansi Diski and its reputation globally; with no further delay, we present to you the Mzansi Diski edition of Attracting Attention. Enjoy!
The biggest critique we can throw at the current crop of Mzansi footballers in the peak of their careers is their willingness to accept earning large sums of money locally while never truly developing as footballers when they could have moved oversees before they even reached their peaks and ensured that they were playing their best football at a level that is befitting of their true abilities. Mario Rabaiola asked Zlatan Ibrahimovic one thing before he took him on as a client, “Do you want to be the best footballer in the worlds, or the richest?” Zlatan replied, “I want to be the best.” Mario’s retort was the deal clincher for me as he told the lad, “Good, because when you are the best, the money will come.”
We have blamed players, their intermediaries, clubs and even some quarters of the media for the precarious situation we face regarding the lack of player development amongst our elite performers due to the mundane and self-sabotaging transfer policy generally employed amongst the bigger sides in our football. In this case study, we have the actions of all relevant parties to assess and seek to understand; please bare with me as I attempt to make sense of one of the most mind-boggling transfer episodes this dramatic series we tend to call a league has ever screened.
The player has done well to go against the grain in Mzansi terms by leveraging his pedigree to sign with a foreign based management agency with a view of securing an overdue move overseas; the brevity and sensibility shown in shunning some of our less ambitious local based intermediaries that seek profit over prestige and success. His new intermediaries have not shown a reluctance to renegotiate with his current employers and the fact that the lad has had his position threatened at both club and national level will go a long ways towards explaining why there has been a hold-up in the current negotiations over certain clauses that the Khune party are insisting upon to ensure the future of their client. Kaizer Chiefs themselves cannot be spared from the deserved blame they have received from their fans regarding how this entire contract situation, including the many before it, seem to be handled by the management team and Bobby Motaung in particular. It just seems like bad business sense for a resourceful club like Kaizer Chiefs to allow a first team players contract to approach the 14-month to expiry mark without there being an opening of dialog with the players representatives regarding an renewal. The club could still sell the player off if they receive an offer that meets their evaluation and pocket themselves a healthy transfer fee to boost the coffers; this practice also sets a good precedent for the club as other players see that they employ a particular set of values that ensure the best outcome for all parties involved. The less said about the role played by large quarters of the media, the better; we truly pray that we see an age where players are grown by the people that earn a living writing about them daily and not just used as headline grabbing content for things that sometimes have nothing to do with the players performances on the field.
Itu is currently free to negotiate with any club of his choosing and he can sign a deal to move at the expiration of his current deal on a Bosman Ruling; this great freedom comes with an even greater responsibility, Itu and his advisors can now freely make the best decision for the lads career. At 27, Itu is still a year away from his peak as a goalkeeper and he would have plenty of football in him at the elite level if he made the great trek overseas now; clubs would be far more eager to negotiate terms or have a look at the player when that R 12 500 000 price tag has been taken out of the equation. There is no doubting the fact that Itumeleng Khune will succeed overseas at the elite level, the height issue has not stopped him from proving that he is the premier shot-stopper on the African continent when he has his head in the game; inspirational leadership, ever improving positioning, cat-like reflexes and immaculate distribution are all key traits possessed by a man with his legacy in his own gloves right now.
The Grand Stand View
On a high off yet another promotion, The Cherries are expected to flex some of their financial muscle in the transfer market as they seek to strengthen their entertaining side with players that can cut the mustard at the elite level and help establish the seaside club as a Premier League club. Itu’s relatively low international profile is a perfect fit for a tightly knit football side with a growing South African presence that would see Itu joining up with Andrew Surman and international teammate Tokelo Rantie; the low risk nature of the free transfer would appeal to Eddie Howe as it would leave some funds in the transfer kitty to spend on strengthening other key areas. On loan Polish stopper Artur Boruc will return to parent club Southampton and Lee Camp at 30 will not improve much on his current level that sees him looking like a better fit in the Football League; promising young Englishman Ryan Allsop is far from ready to be the last line of defence at Premier League level and a keeper of Khune’s ability would be a welcome addition to the ambitious side.
Another newly promoted EPL side with a need for gloves men is Watford, their pride may be hurt from being piped to the Championship title when they had it in their hands yet the focus will have now shifted towards ensuring that the club are not stuck battling relegation next season after fighting so hard to secure guaranteed promotion into the promised land of English football. Current number 1, Heurelho Gomez is a seasoned campaigner that is known to drop a clanger or two during the course of a season and the club cannot see him as a long-term no: 1 at 34 years of age. His back-up is a promising young English-Welshman who at 21 could develop into a solid no: 2 over time, yet Jonathan Bond is far from ready to make the leap to Premier League football. Itumeleng Khune would be a cost efficient long term signing for that goalkeeping position at a club that could use a reliable last line of defence with the ability to distribute the ball efficiently and set up attacking moves for his team through his playmaking ability from the back.
This current FC Twente side has underachieved drastically this season, despite possessing a talented young side, Twente have hovered in mid-table obscurity for large parts of the season and they will need a shake-up in the off season if they are to fulfil the potential that is within the squad. Nick Marsman and Sonny Stevens, at 24 and 22 respectively, have shown that they may still be somewhat far from being ready to regularly lead the defence of the side in a competitive and open league; Itu would be a welcome and cost effective edition to a club in need of quality additions while the purse strings are being tightened and the presence of fellow South Africans in Kamo Mokotjo and Nana Ntuli would aid Itu in acclimatising to life in Holland and playing good football from the offset.
Full Name: Itumeleng Isaac Khune
DoB: June 20th, 1987 (27)
PoB: Venterdsorp, North-West
Caps & Goals: Bafana (65 Caps); SA u/23 (13 Caps); SA u/20 (17 Caps)
Height: 1, 84m
Club: Kaizer Chiefs F.C.
Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2015
Club Jersey No: #32
Career Club Appearances: 199 Games
Development Academy: Kaizer Chiefs Youth Academy
Market Value: R 12 500 000