Is Mamelodi Sundowns’ Cassius Mailula joining Lionel Messi in the MLS?

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns' forward Cassius Mailula in action during a CAF Champions League group game. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns' forward Cassius Mailula in action during a CAF Champions League group game. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Published Jul 17, 2023


Mamelodi Sundowns are considering a bid from an unnamed North American club for the services of striker Cassius Mailua, the club announced.

“Mamelodi Sundowns have been in discussions with a North American football club that expressed interest in acquiring the services of Cassius Mailula,” the statement read.

Mailula had a top-flight debut season to remember at Sundowns, scoring 15 goals and registering four assists in 31 matches across all competitions.

That feat earned him the coveted DStv Young Player of the Season award as he helped the Brazilians to clinch a record sixth title in a row while they crashed out in the Champions League semi-final.

So having Mailula grabbed the bulls by the horns unlike his peers who struggled in the first team – like Promise Mkhuma and Keletso Makgalwa – Sundows are proud of his exploits.

“Sundowns are proud of Cassius Mailula who joined the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy as a 13-year-old and was developed and nurtured by the Sundowns coaches,” the club said.

With the transfer window only this month, Sundowns still have ample time to iron out the finer details of the offer from the unnamed North American club.

“Mamelodi Sundowns will make further announcements concerning Cassius Mailula in due course,” the statement concluded.

The fast-growing Major League Soccer (MLS) is based in North America, and in recent years, South Africa’s young sensations Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Njabulo Blom have found new homes there.

Recently, the MLS stole the spotlight as it welcomed seven-time Ballon d’or winner and World Cup champion Lionel Messi, who joined Inter Miami, to its structures.

Should Mailula’s move go through, it could very well divide the football fraternity. His Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos said he wasn’t ready for a move abroad, insisting he must grow at Sundowns.

“I honestly do not think he’s ready for Europe,” the 70-year-old Belgian coach, who has over 30 years of coaching experience at domestic and international level, said earlier this year.

“Mailula is doing well in his first season. He’s made a breakthrough, but to say he’s ready for Europe … (is premature).

“I would advise him to stay one year more at Sundowns and play in the Champions League, that’d be good for his development. Don’t underestimate going to Europe, especially for a striker. It’s very difficult!

“Certainly, he has the potential. But don’t decide very soon. I know everyone is saying ‘Mailula that and this’. But be careful of that. It’s only his first season.”

His development coach at Sundowns David Notoane begged to differ, though, stressing that the 22-year-old is ready for a move abroad.

“Do I think he’s ready? I think so. Why? I think he’s done very well in the PSL and Caf Champions League which is a continental competition,” Notoane explained.

“Does he have the talent? Yes, he’s got the talent. So, this talent needs to be tested at another level. He’s on a rich vein of form riding with him. So mentally he’s confident.

“But he’s playing for a big club as well. So, when the opportunity presents (itself) and the club sees it fit, of course they’ll make the decision. The boy is talented, and you require talent.

“He’s got certain types of talents, and maybe that could attract European teams. And if that’s the situation, then why not?”

IOL Sport