|To Russia with love: Sundowns defender Siyanda Xulu|
MAMELODI SUNDOWNS have turned down a second offer for defender Siyanda Xulu from Russian club Rostov – their decision to reject a R5m bid for the 20-year-old has left his representative Paul Mitchell from Siyavuma Sports “very disappointed”.
Mitchell, who also oversaw Aaron Mokoena’s move to Wits last month, said: “It’s frustrating that the move for Siyanda has been turned down, we understand at the end of the day he’s a contracted player and Sundowns have every right to decide his value.
“But we feel that the over-inflated South African market is now starting to have an effect on young South African players leaving our shores for better things.
“Siyanda has always had a burning ambition to play overseas and has been promised if a reasonable offer came in, he would be allowed to leave. Unfortunately, the offer put forward has not been deemed reasonable by Sundowns and at the end of the day, he’s a contracted player.”
Mitchell took highly-ranked Xulu, poached from Kaizer Chiefs as a teenager, to Barcelona and Arsenal last season, provoking considerable interest. Mitchell said: “He was ready to go to Barca when they sacked their entire academy staff, then we organised a loan move to Atletico Madrid but Sundowns rejected that, they were worried he might lose confidence if, at the end of the loan, a permanent deal never happened.
“Arsene Wenger had a look at him and he liked what he saw. He said Siyanda was a perfect Premier League full-back, he just needed to get used to the physicality.
“Now we have this offer from Rostov, a major club in a big league. I can’t tell you how frustrating this is for a young player like Siyanda. He deserves his chance to play overseas. But as I will reiterate he’s a Sundowns player.”
Rostov, promoted to the increasingly lucrative Russian Premier League in 2008, finished mid-table last season, with Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa and Cameroon defender Benoit Angbwa among their current squad. The club has a unique link with South Africa - Matthew Booth, Tony Coyle, Rowan Hendricks, Bennett Mnguni and Zaphet Zwane have all played in the popular tourist port.
Sundowns Dutch coach Johan Neeskens said: “If Rostov offer what Sundowns feel is a fair transfer fee then we’ll let him go. He’s a very talented defender and we deserve to get a good price for Siyanda.”
Mitchell added: “Look at the end of the day, we’re in the same position as when the Atletico offer was turned down. Siyanda showed tremendous maturity in brushing himself down and getting on with the job in hand at Sundowns. As we’ve discussed, Siyanda will continue to do his level best for Sundowns and Bafana Bafana.”
While Xulu is in limbo, his club-mate Mushekwi – top scorer in the Nedbank Cup last season - is also struggling to be released by Sundowns after passing a medical with Bundesliga newcomers Greuthe Furth.
Mushekwi’s agent Ralph Nkomo is hoping the Tshwane Brazilians will accept a R10m bid for the 24-year-old, who has also attracted interest from Belgium’s Standard Liege and English Championship club Sheffield Wednesday after video footage of his six goals in the 24-0 Nedbank Cup victory over shocking Powerlines echoed around the footballing world.
Nkomo said: “We are preparing a proposal which will put Nyasha’s future in his own hands. We are obviously hoping this matter could be resolved.”