What does the future hold for SA’s young players?

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South Africa has seen a rise in young players plying their trade abroad in several countries all over the world. There are three categories of these players:

  • Players born in South Africa and left after turning 18.
  • Players who were born in South Africa and left the country at a very young age due to parents getting opportunities abroad.
  • Players who were born outside of South Africa to South African parents.

FARPost analyses the future of these players looking at their current exploits and zooming into the next 5 years of their careers.

  1. Kgaogelo Chauke- Southampton FC

The 17-year-old midfielder has already signed his first professional contract with English Premier League side Southampton at his tender age.

Chauke looks set to be one of the players given his senior debut this season after first team manager Ralph Hassenhuttl called the central midfielder to the first team in the past 6 months. Chauke even featured for the ‘Saints’ in a pre-season match against Fulham suggesting he may feature anytime for the first team this season.

Chauke has a year and a half left on his current deal, but after making his first-team debut, he is likely to renew the deal for a longer period. Should the teenager do well for Southampton’s first team in a few years, moves to bigger EPL clubs like Liverpool are a big possibility

  1. Max McMillan – Leeds United

This publication recently reported that the 17-year-old striker has been called up by first-team coach Marcelo Bielsa to the senior squad of ‘The Whites’ to train with the senior team and considering the fact that he has been at Leeds United since the age of 6 McMillan is likely to stay with Leeds for the next 5 years.

The striker is yet to sign his first professional contract, but with Bielsa’s belief and his goal-scoring abilities the Yorkshire born attacker can sign a deal anytime now with Leeds and its most likely to be a long-term deal considering his lifelong commitment to the club.

  1. Luke Le Roux- Varbergs Bois

Probably one of the most promising defensive midfielders of his generation, Le Roux moved to Sweden early in 2020 from SuperSport United. The former U-20 captain has hit the ground running in Sweden having already featured in 22 league games out of a possible 23 games this season.

With his performances, the 20-year-old is likely not going to stay in Varbergs for long with bigger clubs in Sweden likely to snatch him up from the small club. The European scouting network is very intertwined and two more seasons in Sweden with a bigger club can get the midfielder a contract in Europe’s top 5 leagues in three years at the age of 23.

  1. Sphephelo Sithole- SAD Belenenses

When 21-year-old midfielder Sphephelo Sithole moved to Sporting Lisbon in 2017 many expected the midfielder to make it up the ranks of the Portuguese club, but he opted to move to smaller clubs to fast track his route into first-team football.

Indeed Sithole made his first-team debut in 2020 for his Lisbon based club SAD Belenenses, but this was just the beginning for the KZN Academy graduate who is most likely going to start to be a regular feature for Belenenses this season.

Sithole has derbies with Sporting Lisbon and Sporting Lisbon Benfica which gives him an opportunity to be scouted by big clubs all over Europe.

With his potential ‘Yaya’ is likely to stay only two seasons with Belenenses and moving to a bigger club in Portugal or even a better league. In five years ‘Yaya’ is likely to be playing in Europe’s top five leagues should he perform consistently for Belenenses.

  1. Luther Singh- Pacos Ferreira

Probably one of the brightest players who has been recently given an opportunity at Bafana Bafana level, Luther Singh signed for Sporting Braga in January of 2017 signing a 5-year-deal, but the winger has not been able to break into Braga’s first team and Braga has sent him on loan in the past three seasons.

The winger has done well on loan playing regular first-team football, this has helped with his development and the 2020/21 season is likely to be his breakthrough season in Portugal.

With just over a year left on his current deal, Singh’s future will depend on his performances for Ferreira this season, but the winger will not struggle with options.

At the end of his contract, the 23-year-old is likely to either renew a deal with Braga or get a move away from the Portuguese side in the next year.

  1. Lyle Foster – Vitoria Guimaraes

Having recently joined Vitoria Guimaraes on a 5-year-deal from AS Monaco, the 20-year-old Soweto born striker’s path for the next five years looks clear.

Foster will want to have a few seasons at Guimaraes before making a move back to the top five leagues. Guimaraes is a club known for producing players for Portugal’s top 3 teams with the likes of Moussa Marega and Soares recent examples of this transition the Bafana Bafana striker is likely to follow in the same route or just move to EPL, Bundesliga, Italy or Spain in the next 5 years.

  1. Siyabonga Ligendza – Cardiff City

Ligendza joined Cardiff at the age of eight and now at the age of 17, the striker is looking likely to secure his first professional contract with the club. The striker has recently came out to this publication to say negotiations for a new contract have started already with the club.

Ligendza scored 35 goals in the past two seasons alone which has even gotten other clubs in England sniffing around for the striker which will likely force Cardiff to make a decision on his contract as soon as possible. Having been at the club since he was a child, the club is likely to tie the teenager down on a long-term contract.

  1. Daniel Jordan- Ajax Amsterdam

In an exclusive interview with FARPost, the 14-year-old has clearly outlined his goals for the next five years which are to keep rising through the development ranks, securing a deal in the next three years and making his first-team debut in 5 years’ time.

Jordan was recently awarded an award for being the top goal scorer for Ajax’s U-15 development squad, should he continue he should achieve those goals.

  1. Reyaan Raffie- Manchester City

Raffie has scored over 100 goals already at the tender age of 12 for both Fleetwood Town and Manchester City’s youth squads.

The striker is currently scoring goals for fun at City and the Manchester-based club is likely to nurture him for years to come and give him his first debut in the next few years. With his abilities at 12, the striker is likely to be one of those teenagers who make their debuts as early as 16-17 in their careers.

  1. Keanin Ayer – Varbergs Bois

Right to Dream product Keanin Ayer has made some serious strides since leaving Eldorado Park at the age of 12 for the Ghana-based academy.

Ayer stayed at RTD until 18 before making a move to Sweden over two years ago and in the two years, he has clocked over 50 league games for Varbergs including the 29 he played last season as they got promoted to the top tier of Swedish football.

Ayer trained with Varberg’s Danish affiliate club FC Nordsjaelland last year December which suggested the midfielder would make a move up to Denmark, but that did not happen.

With his contract set to expire next year the 20-year-old is likely to make a move away from Varbergs in the next year to look for a team in a bigger league as he seeks to move up to the top five leagues in Europe towards fulfilling his dream of one day playing for Barcelona.

RELATED STORY: EXCLUSIVE: 14-year-old Jordan making waves in Amsterdam

By Prince Sobayeni

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