Hendrick Ekstein did not negotiate with Kaizer Chiefs‚ says Motaung

Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs.
Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs’ football manager Bobby Motaung has said that Hendrick Ekstein’s mind did not seem to be with the club‚ and that the player and his agent rejected a deal for a renewal of his contract without negotiating.

Chiefs surprised by releasing attacking midfielder Ekstein this week from his contract‚ which was up for renewal‚ two months before its completion in June.

Amakhosi also released midfielder Khotso Malope and striker Gustavo Paez.

But Ekstein’s release raised eyebrows as the notably flawed playmaker had played some of his best football in the past three months since Ernst Middendorp’s arrival as Amakhosi coach in December.

Speculation has been that Ekstein‚ the 28-year-old Chiefs youth product who made his first-team breakthrough late at 24‚ had asked for an unrealistic increase in salary.

Motaung told TimesLIVE on Friday‚ though‚ that the player had simply rejected an offer without negotiating for more.

“No‚ no. They never negotiated. We gave them an offer‚ they rejected it‚ and that’s it.

“There were no negotiations – they left‚” Motaung said.

Amakhosi’s football manager said Ekstein was released now‚ and not at the end of the season‚ because Middendorp’s aim is to begin building for next season‚ so it makes sense to release players who will not be part of those plans.

“Why delay when people are not going to be part of you next season?” Motaung said.

“All those players‚ there contracts are up. The coach is preparing the team for next season. So rather use players who we are going to be there next season.

“We have started the process of looking at players who we want to bring in. And those who are going‚ we would rather release them now‚ also for them to have time to find clubs.”

Ekstein has been linked to interest from other clubs‚ including Chiefs’ archrivals Orlando Pirates.

Motaung strongly suggested that the player left Amakhosi more by his own will than that of the club.

“I saw him happy‚ the day before yesterday when we called him [for the meeting]. And even yesterday. He left with a smile‚” Motaung said.

“Even yesterday on TV [in an interview on Robert Marawa’s Thursday Night Live on SuperSport] you could see he was not a sad player. He was not angry.

“Who could terminate a contract without having a job‚ and just accept the termination‚ and say ‘I’m happy about it’?”

“The coach [Middendorp] had an input on the player not being in the plans. But also‚ when somebody’s mind is not here‚ why keep him? You can see it in his games.”

Ekstein has been something of a conundrum of a player‚ who has divided Chiefs supporters’ opinions since his introduction to the first team in 2014-15.

The skilful playmaker was a crowd favourite for some. A discerning fan pointed to his poor decision-making‚ tendency to give the ball away in crucial areas‚ and for missing chances‚ and reluctance to track back and defend‚ making him a far from complete player.

Motaung did not wan to comment on whether such flaws played a role in the decision to release Ekstein.

“I don’t want to criticise a player who is going. I just wish him all the luck in the future‚” he said.

Ekstein has played 27 games in all competitions for Chiefs in 2018-19‚ scoring five goals.

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