Inflated transfer fees are often cited as the reason it has become increasingly difficult for local clubs to find bargain deals on sought-after players.
However, some clubs, such as Bidvest Wits, still managed to pull off some excellent signings over the years for free by capturing many through pre-contracts.
The former Absa Premiership champions again thrived on this trend, as they secured no less than five players in the just-ended player transfer window: Fagrie Lakay (SuperSport United), Sinethemba Jantie (pre-contract, Free State Stars), Phathutshedzo Nange (pre-contract, Black Leopards), and Prince Nxumalo and Brandon Petersen (both pre-contract, Ajax Cape Town).
It was Cape Town City that made a massive profit with the sale of their star midfielder Ayanda Patosi to Iranian champions Esteghlal FC in a transaction that City owner John Comitis would only say was “up north” of R5 million.
Comitis smashed a domestic record while still at Ajax Cape Town with the R5 million sale of Franklin Cale from the Mother City side to Mamelodi Sundowns in 2009.
“All we can say is that we are very happy,” Comitis told City Press of the Patosi deal, adding that they had anticipated this departure by signing Kermit Erasmus and Thato Mokeke.
“Transfers go in waves. You can see now there is a slowdown – SuperSport United is not buying as many players as they used to; Wits has got a formula for free players. But, ultimately, over the years, I have been involved in big transfers,” he said.
Comitis disclosed that there was interest from Scandinavian countries in his striker Matthew Rusike, but no concrete offer had come through by the transfer deadline.
Kaizer Chiefs, meanwhile, conceded that they were forced to scour the market for a goalkeeper due to the long-term injury of their No 1, Itumeleng Khune.
And, as a result, Amakhosi had to pay Chippa United for the transfer of Nigeria’s international goalie Daniel Akpeyi.
Amakhosi manager Bobby Motaung told City Press that Akpeyi’s transaction would have had Godfrey Walusimbi as part of a swap deal, but the Ugandan defender opted to terminate his contract and go home.
“Nothing is for free,” said Motaung, who refused to disclose the price of the Akpeyi deal.
“It was not easy because nobody wants to sell. At this stage of the season, some clubs are fighting relegation.”
Amakhosi ultimately unveiled Wits defender Reese Frosler after marathon talks between the two clubs.
Frosler’s departure saw the arrival of Lakay (21) who, of the players that the Clever Boys secured on pre-contracts, got an early release from the Tshwane club.
Lakay’s transaction was fast-tracked after Wits offered Mxolisi Macuphu to SuperSport on loan until the end of the season.