After the termination of Hendrick Ekstein’s contract last month, Kaizer Chiefs’ midfield has had struggled to implement Ernst Middendorp’s preferred style of play. The club will need to back their coach in the transfer market to replace him, and four possible targets in the PSL that could be considered are as follows:
He is undoubtedly the ideal signing, with his ability to play in various midfield roles from defensive midfielder to box-to-box or even as a number ten. His pressing, dribbling and penetrative passing would be ideal for Middendorp’s high-intensity style of play. Makaringe picked up three assists in a virtuoso performance on Saturday against SuperSport United, but indications from coach Eric Tinkler suggest that Orlando Pirates might be ahead of Chiefs in the queue. Amakhosi are also no longer known to spend significant transfer fees on players, preferring free agents or those who cost minimal fees.
Although he turns 30 this year, Phalane could be a cut-price, short-term option for Chiefs. The left-footer brings an excellent passing range and long-range shot, whilst also being very strong defensively. He is averaging 2.05 tackles per 90 minutes, the 6th most in the PSL. With the financial difficulties at Phunya Sele Sele, it surely would not take a large fee to bring the Limpopo-born midfielder on board.
Even though Baroka are in a relegation battle, Mdantsane has been excellent for the club over the last two seasons. His left-footed passing range and ability to play as a holding player or with more attacking license would be welcome by Middendorp, who likes to vary between a midfield three and a midfield diamond. The 24-year-old could play on the left of a diamond or more centrally. He was previously on the books of Chiefs in the Multichoice Diski Challenge team and would be a shrewd purchase.
Like Makaringe, he would carry a significant transfer fee. Should the Maritzburg United man end up at Pirates instead, Nodada would offer some similarities in his skill set. The Cape Town City man can play in a deeper role or as a number ten and brings incredible energy to press from the front and counter-press, both pillars of Middendorp’s style of play. Although his passing range is not as strong as Makaringe, Phalane or Mdantsane, he has excellent timing to get into the box and could develop his distribution at Chiefs.
Why Pule is being missed
Since Ekstein’s found himself left in the stands, and then released by Amakhosi, Chiefs have had to use Philani Zulu in midfield and recall Willard Katsande, who had initially lost his place as Middendorp found his ideal high-pressing midfield in the Nedbank Cup win against Cape Town City – Maluleka holding, with Pule and Andriamirado ‘Dax’ Andrianarimanana to the sides. They stopped Benni McCarthy’s side with their closing down and this has been a problem without Ekstein’s energy in the side.
Do Chiefs miss the contribution of Ekstein? Who should they sign to replace the playmaker? Let us know by commenting below.