Barcelona interested in Costa Nhamoinesu?
By Robson Sharuko
Zimbabwe international defender Costa Nhamoinesu is considering a number of options, including extending his stay at Czech giants Sparta Prague, moving to Germany or Turkey, or returning to Africa for a swansong with South African glamour club Kaizer Chiefs in what would certainly be his last major contract in his football dance on foreign soil.
Turkish giants Besiktas, who are battling to find a way back to the top after winning the last of their 18 Super Ligi titles seven years ago, are one of the clubs that have shown interest in signing the 30-year-old Zimbabwe international, whose stock has been rising in European football.
There were reports yesterday on social media that Spanish giants Barcelona have tabled a 5 million euro bid for Nhamoinesu, which appeared to have been plucked from the BBC Sport transfer gossip columns whose link could not be traced, but his handlers told The Herald that there had been no contact from the Catalan powerhouse.
After all, Nhamoinesu is in the final months of his contract with Sparta Prague and, given that he can walk away for free in the next few months, there is no way that a club of Barca’s stature could then bid to pay 5 million euros for his services when they know his contract is due to expire soon.
His agent, Jakob Slowik, revealed that they were looking at a number of options, including interest from Besiktas and a number of clubs that he cannot name right now, and they will only make a decision that will be in the best interest of the gangling defender, who has been described as “world class” following his performances in the UEFA Europa League this season.
Besiktas, who regularly feature in the UEFA Champions League, are one of Turkey’s most successful football clubs, having won the country’s league championship 18 times, and hold the proud record of not having ever been relegated from the Super Ligi.
Their current squad is spiced by a number of Brazilians and their attack is led by German international, Mario Gomez, who is on loan from Italian club Fiorentina while Portuguese winger, Ricardo Quaresma, is also part of the team.
“He (Costa) is a quality player and we need to find the right club that will appreciate him and his character,” Slowik said,
“Turkish clubs are in the race.
“Besiktas, Kasimpas and Konyaspor are very interested. There are also German clubs interested but I cannot name them yet.
“Is it interesting for you to hear that Kaizer Chiefs are (also) interested in signing Costa? We are negotiating with them.
“He (Costa) is open to do that (coming to join Chiefs) if the package is right.”
Slowik even said Nhamoinesu had joked that, in the event that he ends up signing for the Amakhosi, it would mean that his chances of winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or would have ended.
The agent said their negotiations with other clubs, which is permitted by FIFA rules and regulations given that Nhamoinesu is in the final six months of his current contract with Sparta Prague, did not mean that he would definitely be leaving the Czech giants.
Slowik said they were also negotiating with Sparta Prague with a view to keeping Nhamoinesu at the club which has been his home since he moved to the Czech Republic, three years ago, from Poland where he spent five years at lower division clubs KS Wisla Ustronianka and Zaglebie Lubie.
The Zimbabwe international made 136 appearances, and scored six goals, during his time at Zaglebie Lubie where he established himself as one of the best defenders in the Polish domestic leagues, leading to interest, and the eventual fruitful marriage, with Sparta Prague.
He has impressed many observers with his solid performances for Sparta Prague, both in the Czech Republic where they have been very successful, and in Europe.
Some hawks have even tried to get a piece of him, negotiating with other clubs for his services as his stock rose, forcing Nhamoinesu to go public and tell the world that his only official agent was Slowik.
“Just to clarify things, my official agent is @JakobSlowik,” Nhamoinesu tweeted on April 9 this year.
A few days later, the defender posted another tweet, describing his journey in the UEFA Europa League, where Sparta Prague were knocked out in the quarter-finals, as an “interesting journey.”
It was also a challenging one, too.
For Nhamoinesu had to battle against racism, in the trenches of European football this season, and during their game against Italian giants Lazio, who have a reputation of having a number of racist fans, the referee was forced to briefly suspend the game as the stadium announcer reminded the Rome side’s supporters that their taunts, towards the Zimbabwe international, were of a racist nature.
His dream is also to inspire the Warriors to their first Nations Cup finals in more than 10 years and the gangling defender has been playing a pivotal role and scored a goal, a thunderous header from the blind side, in the 4-0 thrashing of Swaziland in the last AFCON qualifier at the National Sports Stadium on Easter Monday.
His performance in the reverse tie in Swaziland had also caught the eye of many neutrals with one South African pundit posting a message on Twitter that Nhamoinesu was “world class.”
On March 29 this year, Nhamoinesu rallied the entire country to support the Warriors in their battle to qualify for the 2017 Nations Cup finals in Gabon.
“Many thanks Zimbabweans for supporting #Warriors. We are not only 18 or 11 players on the field, we are millions of us,” he tweeted.
Should Nhamoinesu eventually settle in Turkey, he could follow in the footsteps of former Warriors’ skipper and coach, Norman Mapeza, who — like Costa — also first landed in Poland before finding his way to Turkish giants where he made a big impression, including playing in the Champions League against the likes of Brazilian legend Romario, who was starring for Barcelona.
At 30, Nhamoinesu and his handlers know that the next contract could be his last big deal, either with a European or African club, and they are likely to take their time to try and ensure that they get the best possible deal for a player who has been outstanding for both club and country. The Herald