Monday, 11 July 2011

Tsepo joins Sven's latest benefactors

It's hard to think of any supporters who will be looking forward to the start of the season as much as Leicester City's. As Sven Goran Eriksson's spending spree continues at The Walkers Stadium, (the signing of defender Matthew Mills from Reading last week for a club record £4.5 million made it six new signings so far) Bafana Bafana left back Tsepo Masilela joined the Foxes' squad in Sweden this weekend.

He was expected to have his medical ahead on Monday as the first step on completing a year-long deal from Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa, although Eriksson did voice concerns about his fitness last week. But after recovering from a serious knee injury that wrecked the start of his year, the 26-year-old who famously made his international debut before playing in South Africa's top-flight should have no problems having returned to action for his club at the start of April.

A UK permit should then be the only stumbling block but his status as a Bafana Bafana regular and experience of Champions League football should also make that a formality. Whether he can actually get a chance to show what he can do is another matter entirely.

There were rumours on Monday that Eriksson is also sizing up a move for Liverpool reject Paul Konchesky - reportedly on ludicrous wages of around £40,000 a week - and that could mean trouble for Masilela. Even if the man who somehow acquired two England caps takes a substantial pay-cut, his cost and experience of the Championship is likely to put him ahead of the Bafana full back - not to mention the other options already at the club.

Over the weekend, South African coach Pitso Mosimane warned his players that they must not join clubs where they will be spending most of their Saturdays keeping warm on the bench. The Benni McCarthy-dominated days of European-based superstars waltzing back into the Bafana team regardless of whether they were playing for their clubs are clearly over, meaning Masilela may find himself out in the cold very soon.

The lack of a real rival at international should keep him safe for the two remaining African Nations Cup qualifiers, although Bafana's likely presence in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January will not exactly help his cause at Leicester. A player who is not the most at ease with the media, Masilela will nonetheless get his head down and work hard to fulfil his life-long dream of playing in England's top-flight by making his move permanent next summer.

Under a manager who has already won 17 major trophies for some of Europe's biggest clubs during a 35-year career, he should have a real chance of achieving that. But with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules due to be introduced next season, it could be now or never for Leicester City.

Their fans will just be hoping Sven's latest spending spree is more Lazio than Notts County.

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