JOHANNESBURG – Despite Wits captain Thulani Hlatshwayo publicly admitting he is eager for a new challenge, coach Gavin Hunt is adamant they have no intentions of letting go of the defender.
In a transfer window that has been subtle, Hlatshwayo has been one of the few talking points as allegations have emerged that he is said to be a target by childhood club Orlando Pirates.
However, the Clever Boys remain adamant that their skipper is not for sale, especially locally.
But on Wednesday night following Wits’ 1-0 win over Polokwane City at Peter Mokaba Stadium, the Bafana Bafana captain told the media that he was open to a move before the transfer window closes on 30 August.
“I’m comfortable at Wits, but the window is not closed yet, so anything can still happen,” Hlatshwayo said. “Not at all. I’m still contracted to Wits and everything lies with the management.
“Obviously, I did make it clear that I want a new challenge. And, like I said, the window is still open so anything can still happen.”
However, despite learning of Hlatshwayo’s post-match comments, Hunt cut an adamant figure at the PSL offices in Parktown yesterday during Wits’ MTN8 press conference ahead of their clash against SuperSport United on Sunday, stating that the 29-year-old Soweto-born defender is “very much happy at Wits”.
“No, he doesn’t want to go anywhere,” Hunt said.
“He’s happy with us and he’s fine. (But) you can never say never in football. If you can scan down the road, players go down for free and they now want to be bought back. Anything can happen in football, and if you look overseas, I am sure there (will be a) bit of movement before the window closes. But I don’t want to lose the boy, he knows that.
“He’s the captain of our team and national team. He feels he’s at home and we’ve come a long way.
“And there’ll always come a time for people to move on, but he’s happy and so are we.”
Pirates’ tempting moves for Hlatshwayo will most likely be ignored by Wits for now, if they offer the former Ajax Cape Town defender an improved deal.
However, that would cause a bit of strain at the club with Hunt having confirmed a fortnight ago that they are in financial limbo as they can’t afford to buy any players and had to settle for the free agents during the transfer window. On the other hand, Wits would boost their financial muscle if they were to sell “Tyson” to the highest bidder.
However, Hunt would rather chase for silverware this season with his “average team” instead of losing the spine of his defensive line.
“It’s a no brainer that (the sale of Hlatshwayo) would solve all of our problems but it would give us problems in centre-back role,” Hunt said.
“It would solve all our financial problems that’s for sure, but that’s not the point. We’ve got to look after our team and our club, and it’s a player that has come a long way with us.
“From Ajax being an average right-back, to being a national team centre-back and captain.
“There’s no doubt that we want to keep him.”@Mihlalibaleka