Limited prospect for playing in Atletico Madridâ€™s first team and Spainâ€™s economic melt-down have emerged as the underlying reasons for Robin Ngalandeâ€™s signing for South Africaâ€™s BidVest Wits University.
At a time when the Flames gem was tipped to be the next Samuel Etoâ€™o, Ngalande made a surprise signing of a two-year contract with modest Wits this week. Flames coach Kinnah Phiri and other pundits bemoaned Ngalandeâ€™s return to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) from La Liga.
In an exclusive interview, Ngalandeâ€™s South Africa management company Siyavuma Sports Agency insisted that he did not fail at Atletico C team, where he was promoted from the Under-19 side.
“We do not look at this as a backward step for his career. Robin has broken into the Malawi national team, therefore, he needs to back that up with playing football at the top club level,” the company said.
And an opportunity to play for Wits senior squad and earn more is believed to have tempted the Flames gem. Nation Online had asked Siyavuma why they could not secure Ngalande a move to another European team instead of South Africa and whether the former Malawi Under-17 star had flopped in Spain.
“He had an option on his contract with Atletico and there were several options, but people do not realise that there is financial melt-down in Europe. The other option was for Robin to go and play for a small team in another European country but teams in countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain are in financial problems,” the company said.
“We sat down with Atletico Madrid and we felt it was in the best interest of Robin to move on. Atletico reviewed their squad and they are loaded with so many young players from Africa and Europe; hence, there was little prospect of him playing for the main team.”
Ngalandeâ€™s company refused to go into details how he was affected by Spainâ€™s financial problems. But other sources confided inÂ Nation OnlineÂ that the striker was, at times, struggling to get his perks.
It is also believed that Ngalande, who signed from Mamelodi Sundowns Youth team in 2010 on a K60 million (about $240 000) four-year contract, would be getting more in the PSL whose top earners are in the region of R100 000 (K3 million) a month. Wits have also signed ex-Portsmouth defender Aaron Mokoena and Calvin Kadi from a Greek side.
Siyavuma said Ngalandeâ€™s contract with Wits is flexible and he would be allowed to return to Europe, even during the two years. The company said the idea was for Ngalande to play top club football and use that as a spring board for a return to Europe.
“We still have links with Atletico. We will be monitoring offers from Europe and there should be no doubt of him returning to Europe. He did not fail at Atletico. He made the grade in the first place by signing for them, but the situation is dire in Europe,” said the company without disclosing the transfer fee.
Despite dispatching questionnaires through a fax and e-mails during the week, Madrid had not responded at the time of going to press. Ngalande, too, is elusive with Malawi media. He was three rungs behind the Madrid main team. The Atletico C side is behind B, the reserves and the senior team.