Set me free, begs Tau

South Africa’s best player pleads with PSL cham­pi­ons to keep their word

Sunday Times - - Sport - By BARENG-BATHO KORTJAAS [email protected]­day­times.co.za Percy Tau pic­ture: Gallo Images

Percy Tau is on his knees beg­ging Mamelodi Sun­downs to re­lease him to join English Pre­mier­ship (EPL) club Brighton & Hove Al­bion for R34-mil­lion.

The Sun­day Times can ex­clu­sively re­veal that the EPL out­fit have made three im­proved of­fers to the Premier Soc­cer League cham­pi­ons to sign the 2017/18 SA Foot­baller of the Year, Player’s Player of the Sea­son and joint-top goalscorer. Tau is cut­ting a frus­trated fig­ure and is grow­ing dis­il­lu­sioned by the Brazil­ians’ fail­ure to ac­cept Brighton’s of­fer.

More­over, Tau’s agent, Mmat­satsi Se­falafala of Falaf Sports Tal­ent, ac­cuses Sun­downs of ne­go­ti­at­ing in bad faith and reneg­ing on their word that they would re­lease Tau if he got an of­fer from one of the top five leagues in the world, of which the EPL is one. Tau and Se­falafala met Sun­downs’ of­fi­cials in a Sand­ton ho­tel where a prom­ise to re­lease him to pastures new was made by no less than club pres­i­dent Pa­trice Mot­sepe.

Downs coach Pitso Mosi­mane, act­ing gen­eral man­ager Yo­gesh Singh and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Amanda Matthee were also in at­ten­dance. Tau, who turned 24 last month, de­clined an of­fer to travel to Rus­sia to watch the World Cup with some mem­bers of the club. Fur­ther­more, he feels he is not in a good space to join the team for a pre­sea­son camp which starts tomorrow be­cause he be­lieves his fu­ture needs to be pri­ori­tised.

Brighton tabled an ini­tial of­fer of £1.5 mil­lion (al­most R27-mil­lion) af­ter Sun­downs played Barcelona in the Nel­son Man­dela Cen­te­nary Cup last month. When the Sun­day Times ap­proached Se­falafala for com­ment, she con­firmed the be­hind-the-scenes de­vel­op­ments.

“We’ve had sev­eral meet­ings with Sun­downs and two of them in­cluded the pres­i­dent. Around March, I was con­tacted by Brighton and we started en­gag­ing,” said Se­falafala. “Percy was very ex­cited. We agreed that we will break the news to Sun­downs af­ter the Barcelona game.

“Brighton pre­pared an of­fer and I sent the of­fer to Yo­gesh via email.”

Downs’ re­sponse through Singh was that Brighton had to “‘sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove your of­fer be­cause I won’t even take this to the board’,” said Se­falafala. “Brighton in­creased it to £2-mil­lion plus a 7.5% sell-on. Sun­downs said in­crease the of­fer sig­nif­i­cantly.

“On the other hand, Pitso is busy in the me­dia say­ing these English teams must not think we are in Bu­rundi.” Sun­downs, she said, came back say­ing they want £4m, £2m payable im­me­di­ately and £2m payable in 2019 with no sell-on.

“Their lat­est of­fer is £2,5m, with £2,2m payable im­me­di­ately and £300 000 payable next year in June, plus a 5% sell-on.

“This re­vised of­fer was sent to Downs on Thurs­day night last week.” The si­lence from Sun­downs was deaf­en­ing.

“Last Satur­day Tau sent Mot­sepe a text mes­sage re­quest­ing the pres­i­dent to, ‘Please help me, I need your as­sis­tance, in Jan­uary we spoke about this, you said if we get an op­por­tu­nity we will talk’. He has not re­sponded un­til to­day. Usu­ally, when Percy texts him, he re­sponds im­me­di­ately. This time around he went quiet. I then re­ceived a mes­sage from Brighton to say Sun­downs have re­sponded and have not moved on the four mil­lion,” said Se­falafala.

“This op­por­tu­nity is hang­ing by a thread. The sad part is that we have it in black and white that if a bona fide of­fer comes which the player wishes to ac­cept, both par­ties, in good faith, shall en­gage one another in that re­gard.”

Be­fore Brighton came knock­ing, Tau was a wanted man as far back as Jan­uary. FC Midtjyl­land of Den­mark and Ros­tov of Rus­sia and Dy­namo Moscow made ap­proaches and Se­falafala brought that to the at­ten­tion of Downs.

“We started en­gag­ing and Percy was re­ally keen to go at the time. We had sev­eral meet­ings with Sun­downs, two of which in­cluded the pres­i­dent him­self.

“Their (Sun­downs’) plan was to get Percy to re­new, but we were not keen on do­ing that. From past ex­pe­ri­ences, cer­tain play­ers have had prob­lems to go over­seas af­ter hav­ing re­newed, so we did not want to be locked in a long-term con­tract.

“The pres­i­dent, in his words, said: ‘We see your value, we see you play­ing in the top five leagues’. He said: ‘If you guys get teams from a top-five league we will con­sider it. Percy was so highly emo­tional that at some point he re­quested to be ex­cused from the meet­ing. He was cry­ing.”

At the time, Ros­tov was of­fer­ing $1m. “The trans­fer win­dow closed. We just com­forted Percy and told him to fo­cus on main­tain­ing his per­for­mance and per­se­vere.

Tau sent Mot­sepe a text mes­sage re­quest­ing his help Mmat­satsi Se­falafala

Percy Tau’s agent

Yo­gesh Singh has in­formed Se­falafala that Mot­sepe has ac­knowl­edged re­ceipt of Tau’s text mes­sage. Mot­sepe told Singh to tell Tau that there were two of­fers from two teams in the Span­ish La Liga. Calls made to Singh and spokesper­son Thu­lani Thuswa went...

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