Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Masandawana were all heavily touted to sign the 28-year-old tough-tackling midfielder, but it was Sundowns who showed the pedigree and their financial muscle as they completed an impressive swoop. But while Jali has been arguably the most sought-after player of the transfer window, some may question whether or not he is worth the hype.
Prior to moving to Europe, Jali enjoyed a highly successful stint as he made 98 league appearances for the Buccaneers. During that period, not only did Jali win two PSL titles, but he was a Nedbank Cup, MTN8 winner as well as grabbed a runners-up medal for their exploits in the Caf Champions League.
Jali was also instrumental in the heart of the midfield where he developed an impressive partnership with Oupa ‘Ace’ Manyisa in the middle of the park. But while it was Manyisa who grabbed the plaudits at the time, Jali was the stalwart that allowed Manyisa to play in a more advanced role.
This certainly did not go unnoticed as it was Jali who moved abroad. After a slow start to proceedings in Belgium, Jali would eventually hit his stride in the 2014/15 season. He made 30 appearances for KV Oostende, where he really asserted his authority and made a name for himself.
Although, he was never the type of player to grab the headlines, he was the type of player who could take the game by the scruff of the neck and dictate play. This is a luxury that not many teams possess.
In later years though, Jali’s game has also transformed. Not only has he become physically more imposing but technically, he is a far more superior player. Jali has also shown the tenacity to move forward frequently which makes him a box-to-box player in a capacity of players such as Yaya Toure among others. But perhaps Jali’s greatest trait is his arrogance.
While for many players it could be used to their detriment, in the case of Jali, it is something positive - it is something that shows in places such as Lubumbashi with fans on the oppositions back. Jali is a player that's not afraid to take matters into his own hands. This is leadership at its finest and something which would make him an asset to any dressing room.
Add that to his abundance of international experience and you have the formula for a complete player.
Most importantly, now that his move to Sundowns is confirmed, this perhaps is a privilege that his new coach Pitso Mosimane will have as he inherits a long-term replacement for their captain Hlompho Kekana.
Jali is undoubtedly now the heir apparent to the throne, and the only person that can stop him from succeeding is himself, as they say at Sundowns, the ‘sky is the limit’ for the midfielder.