PRETORIA, December 20 – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane admits he will have little say as to whether star player Khama Billiat will renew his contract with the Tshwane club.
Billiat’s current deal with the Brazilians expires in six months’ time and so far the Zimbabwean international has done little to suggest he will sign a new deal.
The gifted 27-year-old had seemed set for a European move after he shone in Sundowns’ 2016 CAF Champions League-winning campaign. But perhaps as a result of injury and fatigue, or maybe needing a fresh challenge after achieving just about all a player can in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, the 2016/17 Player of the Season has seen his performances dipping over the past 12 or so months.
Even so, and especially in the absence of a goal-scoring forward in the Sundowns team – an under-firing Leonardo Castro has just left for Kaizer Chiefs – Billiat remains a key player for Mosimane.
And with the 2018 Champions League just a couple of months away, the Masandawana coach says the uncertainty over Billiat’s future is a concern and admits he the January transfer window could be a testing and crucial time.
“We will lose two or three players and we will bring in three or four,” Mosimane said after his side’s 0-1 league defeat to Cape Town City on Tuesday night in Pretoria.
“You have to understand, as well as in the middle of the season, January is the preparation for the Champions League in February, so we will bring in three or four. We need three or four quality players to take the product up. We kept a few guys because of the Champions League and we knew in December we would have to shed them.
“Khama is the only one we have not sat down with but the others will stay. Themba Zwane has renewed his contract, it’s just that we don’t want to talk about it. (Tiyani) Mabunda has renewed, Bangaly (Soumahoro) will renew [on Wednesday] I think.
“How can you leave this (he said in reference to Sundowns’ singing fans at Loftus)? Where are you going to go? If you go overseas that’s okay but in South Africa, where are you going to go?”
Mosimane compared Billiat’s situation to two Arsenal stars whom manager Arsene Wenger is battling to hold onto at the English Premier League club as their contracts also run down, allowing them to potentially leave as free agents to a team of their choice.
“It’s the story of [Mesut] Ozil, it’s the story of [Alexis] Sanchez and we are open about it. We want him (Billiat) to stay. We want him to renew, but it is all up to him. He is not playing that well here. How many games has he played? Four/Five? Hopefully, he stays, we would love him to stay but if he decides to go, then he has the power. When your contract is like that, then you have the power. We had to release Leo (Castro).”
Billiat, into his fifth season with the Brazilians after arriving from Ajax Cape Town, has recently been linked with a move to Egyptian giants Zamalek.
Meanwhile, an unnamed source has claimed that Mosimane was chasing the signature of Cape Town City winger Aubrey Ngoma, who would potentially be a like-for-like replacement.
– African News Agency (ANA)