Recouping €6.2m in the Sale of Five Stars: How African Champions Esperance Intend To Retain Continental Dominance
The is worry lingering over Esperance’s decision to let go of five integral players and how that could potentially have them struggle for silverware this.
The panic button hasn’t been hit at the Stade de Olympique Rades but there is genuine concern amongst faithful of the Tunisian club over how they would retain dominance in both the domestic league and in Africa.
Esperance Sportive de Tunis are a traditional selling outfit. However, the weight of worry lingering over their decision to let go of five integral players could potentially have them struggle for silverware this season.
A combined seventeen players have been released on free transfer having been dubbed surpluses to requirements with seven shipped out on loan. Of this figure though, only five, namely Franck Kom, Youcef Belaili, Saad Beguir, Ghayeline Chaalali and Ayeman Ben Mohmmed were invaluable to the century-old club last campaign prior to being shoved away in sanctioned deals.
However, the upside is that the Red and Gold chairman Hamdi Meddeb recouped €6.2m, enough to see them invest to secure replacements for the departures and foot the bill of players’ salaries.
This undertaking should represent business well done for the North Africans. Aimed at balancing their books, a batch of new acquisitions have arrived to fill the void amid questions regarding the quality of new signings and whether they would jell swiftly in time for a campaign already underway.
Gaffer Moine Chaabani will be the man affected most in the event of a season failure which has taken off, by all indications, on a less than prepossessing note.
It required an own goal from 25-year-old Hadi Khalfa, twelve minutes from time, for Esperance to sail over Tatouine in an opening league clash away at the Neijib Khattab stadium.
While this is no guarantee of a season all in ruins but signs are glaringly manifest.
The sale of Algerian international Youcelf Belaili, who, until his transfer to Saudi Premier League juggernauts Al Ahli Jeddah, had been linked to Olympique Marseille, Galatasary and Angers SCO, is being tipped to affect the African club champions.
Chairman Meddeb pocketed €1.5m in the switch of the AFCON title winner but the creativity of the 27-year-old in midfield will be missed. They’ve gotten Billel Bensaha plucked off Algerian side DRB Tadjenanet and Ghana’s 24-year-old Kwame Bonsu for a midfield pairing. The duo – among three other debutants – starred but not with cohesion hinting they would need more time on their hands to create a solidified midfield wall.
Esperance would also be devoid of the services of Cameroon-born Franck Kom who was sold for a reported €3.2m to Qatari team Al Reyyan whose combativeness sealed the back months ago though Bonsu is believed to be his like-for-like replacement.
The ES board would be immune of derides if indeed they go on to flop after they failed to convinced Ghaylene Chaalali and Ayeman Ben Mohammed to renew their contracts. The pair transferred to the Turkish Super Lig and French second tier respectively.
While these exits could hamper the team’s cohesion with a string of new players in the mix, the experiences of Raouf Benguit, Abdelbaker Bedrane and Illyes Chetti will be pivotal in helping Esperance retain the league and African Club gong.
Raouf Benguit, for instance, was an MVP for his erstwhile employers AC Paradou of Algeria and has a track record of excelling in top clashes. He turned provider in Esperance’s goal last Saturday and was one of the well-performing new arrivals in a largely unprepossessing display.
The bulk of the Tunisian giants’ signings were drawn from neighbouring country Algeria to save them of bureaucracy involved in securing work permits in a prompt buy which takes weeks to process.
Clubs in North Africa signed a bond allowing players moving within the four North African countries be treated as domestic stars.
It’s for such a reason that Abdelbaker Bedrane swapped Algeria’s ES Setif for Tunis. The game in the north is characterized by passing and swift movements.
With his wealth of knowledge in the Algerian league and consistency he’d displayed in the previous terms in Algiers, Abdelbaker Bedrane is expected to integrate in rapid fashion. His landing as a defender shows immense maturity, appearing to indicate he could be relied on both in the league and in the Total CAF Champions League.