All week, transfer talk linking Andile Jali with a move to Kaizer Chiefs has been intensifying.
It’s easy to see why.
The midfielder’s agent Mike Makaab spoke on the radio about Mamelodi Sundowns not giving the veteran a clear steer on his future, and it appears Jali has grown discontent with his reduced playing time in recent months.
While some of Downs’ legendary players have argued that the midfielder still has a key role to play at the club—both behind the scenes and during the club’s run in the Caf Champions League—the Brazilians’ ongoing reticence to hand Jali a new contract is clearly creating uncertainty.
He is out of contract in June, and while Sundowns may not want to use him week in, week out, the PSL’s other heavyweights could seriously benefit from his calm head and experienced shoulders in the heart of the park.Backpagepix
Kaizer Chiefs, still seeking a replacement for Njabulo Blom, would surely be his most likely destination, but why aren’t Orlando Pirates being considered more as a next stop for Jali?
While the likes of Thabang Monare and Miguel Timm have enjoyed some strong outings so far this season, they’ve also struggled on occasion as well, preventing the Buccaneers from mounting a sustained title bid.
Monare is rightly lauded for his work rate, but look at how he struggled against Cape Town City earlier this month.
On that occasion, he was completely outclassed by Thato Mokeke, and failed to have an impact on the contest.
This absolutely shouldn’t be happening to title hopefuls like Pirates, and it would surely never happen if they took the plunge and signed midfield general Jali.Getty
His composure and experience in the heart of the park would simultaneously reassure the defence and create more opportunities for those players ahead of him, while just imagine how much Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo could benefit from training alongside the 32-year-old and playing with him week in, week out.
Ndlondlo demonstrated against Stellenbosch FC what a talent he is, but he hasn’t always had Jose Riveiro’s trust, with the manager preferring a more workmanlike midfield partnership instead of the more adventurous 27-year-old.
The presence of Jali, pulling the strings, could change all that, and allow Pirates to be more expansive and adventurous as they look to close the gap to Sundowns.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Jali knows Pirates like the back of his hand.
Here’s a guy who was there for the glory years—winning the MTN8, Nedbank Cup and league title in 2011—and spent the best five years of his career in Soweto.
He knows what it’s like to represent Pirates when they’ve been on top of the pile—even reaching the Caf Champions League final in 2013—and understands the standards that the club must reach.
Like Ndlondlo, he too was once compared to Benedict Vilakazi, and a return to Pirates would represent a wonderful career swansong for the diminutive midfielder.