Ajax Cape Town are facing a crisis at centre-back, with Rivaldo Coetzee agitating for a move away following the news that Lawrence Lartey has signed for Tunisian side Club Africain.
Roscoe Pietersen is the only player in the squad with any semblance of experience at centre-back‚ and with Coetzee having not returned for preseason training‚ things look dire for coach Stanley Menzo.
The Cape club have reportedly slapped a $1m price tag on the 20-year-old‚ who has made no secret of his desire to move to Europe. But even as an established international‚ that is a heavy investment for clubs on a player who is untested in the European environment and in a position that is so key. As teams across Europe struggle financially‚ there has been a flood of free agents in the market — players who come with experience and cost nothing.
It has led Coetzee to a stand-off with the club.
"We will have to see what happens‚ but I have made no secret of the fact that I would like to go overseas‚" Coetzee said.
But his absence from training is a bitter blow to Menzo‚ who was worried by the fragility of his backline last season‚ even with Coetzee in it. The loss of Lartey is another worry‚ with the Ghana junior international having featured in 20 games last season.