Kaizer Chiefs will be losing a stalwart when midfielder George Maluleka leaves for rivals Mamelodi Sundowns after the 2019-20 season.
Maluleka has played 168 matches since joining Amakhosi from SuperSport United in January 2014. According to Transfermarkt, he has picked up 11 goals and 23 assists.
The Tembisa-born playmaker is currently the sixth-longest serving player at Kaizer Chiefs behind Itumeleng Khune, Bernard Parker, Willard Katsande, Kgotso Moleko, and Erick Mathoho.
*Data according to Transfermarkt
His move to Mamelodi Sundowns, which was announced by the Glamour Boys 2260 days into his Kaizer Chiefs stint, may raise the eyebrows of some. After all, Masandawana already have the likes of Hlompho Kekana, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa, Tiyani Mabunda, and Sammy Seabi in midfield. The arrival of Grant Margeman from Ajax Cape Town is also reportedly imminent.
It is possible that to some degree, this signing was made with an eye to weakening and unnerving Kaizer Chiefs. Nevertheless, Maluleka’s suitability to Sundowns should not be underestimated.
Maluleka played as a striker in his early days at SuperSport United before being moved to midfield by Foppe de Haan at Ajax Cape Town. Versatility remains one of his greatest assets.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has previously emphasised his preference for players who are comfortable in several positions.
“I just don’t like players who play one position. You must play two positions,” he told KickOff following the signing of Lyle Lakay from Cape Town City.
Speaking on SAFM Sport On recently, Mosimane suggested Sundowns were set to bring in players specifically to improve their CAF Champions League squad. It is likely that he feels Maluleka’s strengths suit this competition.
The 31-year-old comes with bags of PSL experience. According to Transfermarkt, he has played 249 Premier Division games between his spells at Chiefs, Ajax and SuperSport.
*Data according to Transfermarkt, University of Pretoria not included
He played in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 title-winning seasons at SuperSport United, but was limited to a total of seven league appearances in the two. Sundowns’ Kekana was also a Matsatsantsa player in 08-09, featuring in 23 league games.
Maluleka featured more prominently in Chiefs’ 2014-15 league triumph under Stuart Baxter, playing in 24 fixtures.
His transfer to Sundowns has already come under scrutiny due to Kaizer Chiefs’ allegation that Masandawana did not inform them of their negotiations with the midfielder. In all likelihood, he is a player who will feature in several headlines to come. The only question is what they will say.