Brighton and Hove Albion have tabled a final offer for Percy Tau believed to be in the record-shattering region of R50m, which could increase even further with performance clauses.
Sundowns could earn up to R65m from the deal‚ surpassing any previous fee for a footballer in SA and going some way to recouping the profligate spending of owner Patrice Motsepe over the past decade.
But the deal now stands at a crucial juncture‚ according to a representative of the English Premier League club‚ who did not want to be named but had‚ on Wednesday‚ been speaking exclusively to Business Day.
Brighton are frustrated that the deal remains inconclusive‚ even though they made a first approach to Sundowns as far back as March seeking to sign the Premier Soccer League’s Player of the Season.
They say their final offer has now been made and if not accepted within 24 hours, they will walk away from the deal.
It represents the last chance for Sundowns to make money out of Tau‚ who is desperate to go and try his luck overseas.
The 24-year-old Tau is already boycotting Sundowns’ preseason training because he feels promises made to him are being reneged upon. He was told the club would not stand in his way if he got a chance for an overseas move to one of the top five leagues in Europe.
Tau has told Sundowns management that he will sign a move only to Brighton — whether it is now or in 12 months’ time.
With a huge transfer fee on the table‚ it is baffling what is keeping Motsepe from signing on the dotted line.
Tau has just a season left on his Sundowns contract and Brighton have said they would wait until January and sign Tau on a precontract‚ thereby picking him up for free in mid-2019. But Brighton would rather strike a deal that benefits all parties now‚ the representative said.
Sundowns have already suffered a financial blow in 2018, turning down an R18m offer from FK Qarabaq of Azerbaijan in January for Khama Billiat‚ when it was already clear he would not sign a new deal.
Instead he has now moved across the league to Kaizer Chiefs on a free transfer.
Sundowns are in danger of gaining a reputation for promising players one thing and then doing another.
Keagan Dolly had to stand his ground before he was even-tually sold to Montpellier in France in another example of a player assured he could go abroad but then having to resort to lawyers to seal the deal.
It also happened after the 2010 World Cup when fullback Siboniso Gaxa got an offer from Belgium. He eventually joined Lierse.