Erick Mathoho, the 21-year-old Bloemfontein Celtic defender, has "high hopes" of clinching a R10million deal with Dutch Ere Divisie club FC Twente Enschede.
While high-profile stars like Katlego Mphela of Sundowns have failed in their bid to move to Europe this winter – Glasgow Celtic gave “Killer” just 45 minutes and five days to prove his worth at Parkhead – Mathoho’s agent Tim Sukazi insists “Tower” impressed in two appearance during his week-long trial in the lowlands.
Sukazi, a corporate lawyer who only started representing professional footballers 18 months ago, said: “We got there on the Wednesday and straight off the plane he trained twice which was heavy. Then they played 11 versus 11 and the feeling was good.
“Often players will kick each other in a trial, nobody knows anybody and it’s very competitive. But the players at FC Twente were talking to him. There were a number of triallists, another Brazilian centre-back. But the goalkeeper for instance, he was talking to Erick all the time, encouraging him. He saw something in him.
“On the Saturday afternoon they went to play a friendly match and it was quite a challenge. Mathoho speaks Venda or English, not Dutch or Portuguese. He struggled to communicate with the Brazilian. But the second half they put a Dutch boy in at centre-half who spoke good English and he played very well with Erik.
”Now we are waiting for the feedback. They had five or six from the first team watching the match, they need to get together, combine their verdicts and give us some feedback.
“I think they have seen what they want to see from a 21-yearold South African defender who obviously has great potential.”
But Mathoho’s agent revealed the major stumbling block for young foreign players hoping to settle in the EreDivisie – and it isn’t Venda-born Erick’s real first name, Molomowanadou.
Speaking on SABC MetroFM’s Discovery Sports Centre, Sukazi explained: “In the Netherlands, foreign players have to earn a certain salary, sometimes it’s top heavy for young players coming from Africa or Brazil. That can cripple the club.
“They insist on a minimum salary which amounts to around R5m a year, that’s a good thing but it makes it difficult for young players. They might not be in that bracket as yet. So how does one justify paying a young player that kind of money when he is still developing?
“But the deal is do-able. It’s up to them to make it work. Erick is not from any academy. He is a raw talent. We have high hopes.”
A fee of R10m has already been agreed with Bloemfontein Celtic but if FC Twente head coach Co Adriaanse – the man who released Bafana Bafana striker Bernard Parker - doesn’t snap up the “Venda Tower”, Mathoho may move to Israel’s Maccabi Haifa, who are willing to take the player on the basis of video evidence alone, though Sukazi admits: “It’s not the same as the Ere Divisie.”