English Premier League Side, Brighton & Hove Albion has announced the signing of Bafana Bafana forward Percy Tau from Mamelodi Sundowns. But he will be loaned out, partly so that he can gain European experience and partly because of a work permit issue.

After weeks of speculation, Tau has agreed to a four-year period with the Seagulls in a record deal believed to be around R50 million, which makes the 24-year-old the most expensive player to come from the ABSA Premiership League in South Africa.

Media reports claimed that Sundowns were not interested in releasing Tau, but the Pretoria-based side released a statement stating that these claims were false. Tau hit back on Instagram saying, “By the way, there’s no false statement.”

Several European clubs were looking to acquire the services of Tau but he decided to join Brighton.

The Witbank-born striker had a sensational 2017/18 season with Sundowns:

  • winning the league,
  • being named as South African Player of the Year, and
  • scoring 11 league goals with 10 assists to his name.

The Work Permit Issue

He is talented and has the potential to make it in England, but the issue of requiring a work permit in England will see the Bafana Bafana international getting loaned out to a lower league in Europe.

The work permit issue stems from the beginning of the 2015/16 season when the English FA introduced new work permit rules. Their motivation was that they were trying to reduce the big numbers of foreign players in the English Leagues in the hope that it will somehow assist their young local talent work their way up through the ranks.

For a foreign player to get an automatic work permit to ply their trade in England, they must have played a certain percentage of their national team’s matches over the course of the last 24 months, with that percentage being decided by the FIFA ranking of the country concerned.

The former Sundowns striker has played 75 percent of Bafana Bafana games in the past two years as required by FIFA but Bafana is currently ranked only 74th in the world which denies Tau the opportunity to play in England.

According to Joe Craan, Soccer Laduma journalist from England, the FIFA ranking that is taken into account is not the one at the time of the transfer, but where the nation stands in an aggregated position over the past 24 months. For example, in the latest aggregated ranking of South Africa was 67th and therefore well out of the top 50.

Going Out on Loan is Good

Despite getting loaned out, Tau is pleased with the move and he is willing to work on his game and gain the necessary experience. He said, “Going out on loan is always good to help a player develop and get better.

It’s new for me to be in Europe, and I’ll get to work on myself and a few things that I need to improve. I am hoping to get a better understanding of the game from playing there. It’s a different approach to what we’re used to in South Africa. It’s exciting football.

Brighton released a statement with Manager Chris Hughton praising Tau. He said Tau was a player they had highlighted for the future. “There is no doubting his talent, having been voted South African player of the season. We will be watching his progress and monitoring his development over the season.”

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