Itumeleng Khune is expected to renew his contract before it expires in June but a source at the club has said the demands being made by the goalkeeper’s agents are what is holding up the process.
Khune says Chiefs and his agent are still ‘busy negotiating’
Amakhosi football manager Bobby Motaung has said the club will not break the bank to keep the goalkeeper should he receive offers from rival clubs.
Chiefs have appeared to back the lure of their brand, which has been lucrative to Khune when placed next to his equally impressive stature, to keep the goalkeeper at their Naturena base.
Motaung has often been the target of finger-pointing by Chiefs fans when things have gone wrong on the field. The football manager has been accused of being the source of the unusual frugality that a club of Amakhosi’s stature has shown in the transfer market.
The most recent example was when Kingston Nkhatha moved to SuperSport United in January. The striker – who had scored just two goals, but was central to coach Stuart Baxter’s game plan – revealed he had only been offered a one-year contract by Chiefs, and three years by SuperSport.
Chiefs have scored one league goal since Nkhatha’s departure and won one match, as a 15-point lead over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns has been reduced to eight. Motaung was blamed by fans – ironic given it was the supporters who had been on Nkhatha’s back for his awkward playing style and lack of goals.
However,a source said:
Contract demands, which were “unreasonable and quite insulting” from Khune’s agents, Triple S Sports, were holding up the process;
Motaung did not want Chiefs to be taken for a ride;
A salary has essentially been agreed on but unusual requests for benefits are holding up the deal;
Motaung has thrown the ball back in the agents’ court, saying remove certain aspects and Chiefs will sign;
The Khune negotiations have not affected the team from a playing perspective until now, but it has the potential to if it goes in the wrong direction.
Motaung said he could not comment on the negotiations with Khune.
“I cannot make any official comment on that,” he told Sunday Times, adding: “As for the finger-pointing, it’s normal. You get used to it and it’s part of this job.”
A year ago Khune’s future at Chiefs never seemed in doubt. However, prolonged contract negotiations have raised concern among supporters that their talisman might be lost to them.
Unconfirmed reports have been that Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates have shown an interest. Europe might be the preferred destination for arguably Africa’s second-best goalkeeper to Nigerian Vincent Enyeama.
Khune, 27, dumped agent Jazzman Mahlakane in August 2013 and signed with the Manchester-based Triple S Sports, who represent Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, potentially with a view to securing a move to Europe.
Khune spent much of this season out with injury. He wore a moon boot from when an ankle bone fracture was detected in September.
He returned to fitness in December, and played his first match on February 20, in the 4-0 Nedbank Cup win against Edu Sports. Young goalkeepers Brilliant Khuzwayo and Reyaad Pieterse earned praise deputising in Khune’s absence.
The goalkeeper turned down resuming the Chiefs captaincy on his return, the official reason being that he wanted to rediscover his form first.
Reports have put Khune’s market value at R12.6-million, the figure Chiefs would lose out on should the Bafana star leave on a free transfer.
Contacted by phone, Triple S Sports first said they would not comment on the contract negotiations. They then provided an e-mail address for questions to be directed to, but did not respond to them.
The Nkhatha transfer has appeared to already play a part in derailing what the supporters had labelled the “Chiefs Gautrain” on its path to a seemingly certain second league title in three seasons.
Amakhosi will hope the Khune issue does not prove a further distraction.