Tsepo Masilela’s life-long ambition to play in England fell apart amid a gathering storm last night when the Bafana Bafana left-back’s one-year loan move to Leicester City was scuppered by the arrival of the experienced Premier League journeyman Paul Konchesky.
Masilela’s agent is furious – Witbank-born 26-year-old Masilela, currently at Maccabi Haifa in Israel, had actually flown to Sweden, where Championship club Leicester and their former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson were on tour.
Pending a medical the season-long deal (with a subsequent option to buy) was on the verge of going through when Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, panicked by news of Masilela’s move, cut Konchesky’s fee by around 70 percent to £1.5m (R16m).
That amounts to half of what Roy Hodgson paid his old club Fulham for Konchesky last year – but Dalglish, Hodgson’s successor at Anfield, was no fan of Konchesky. He farmed the former Charlton, Spurs, West Ham, Fulham and Liverpool full-back out to Nottingham Forest on an emergency loan last year.
Though Konchesky, 30, has played over 400 Premier League games and won two England caps under Eriksson, Dalglish was clearly influenced by the Liverpool fans, who never took to the Barking-born defender.
According to Sky Sports, Masilela’s agent Paschalis Tountouris raged: "The way Liverpool operated is totally unacceptable. The medical was okay and we were just waiting for Leicester to offer a contract. But when Liverpool saw that Tsepo was going to sign, they reduced their price by 70 per cent for Konchesky.
"Konchesky doesn't need a work permit, which was going to take 20 days for Tsepo, he is experienced in England and Eriksson knows him much better. Tsepo had his heart set on a move to England. This is unfortunately the situation, but I don't think Leicester have dealt with this issue in the proper way."
"Life goes on and he will go back to Maccabi Haifa for now. I'm sure he will get a chance at another European club."
Masilela played a major part in Maccabi Haifa’s title triumph in Israel last season and is three years into a four-year contract though he has been offered a two-year extension. With 33 Bafana Bafana caps to his credit, relegated Premier League club Birmingham City are now thought to be interested in the former Benoni United player.