Eddie Chikamhi, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE international football striker Tino Kadewere should be having sleepless nights over his next move, with indications yesterday that he was edging close to signing for seven-time French topflight league champions Lyon.
Kadewere, who has been inundated by inquiries across Europe, South America and the Middle East, is faced with a positive headache following his outstanding performances in the French Ligue 2 with Le Havre.
The 24-year-old apparently has to make a mature decision that could forever shape his fledgling career in the dizzy heights of professional football.
His performance in the first half of the season, which saw him plundering a record-equalling 17 goals in 19 starts, suggests that he could have ripened enough to play in any of the big leagues in Europe.
Kadewere was the leading scorer in the French second tier by the time the league adjourned for the mid-season break, and had already attracted interests from French Ligue 1 rivals Lyon and Olympic Marseille.
This week, English Premiership sides Bournemouth and Southampton, Scottish champions Celtic, Al-Rayan of Qatar, Germany Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt and Brazilian outfit Flamengo were also reported to be after his signature.
Another English Premiership side Crystal Palace has been reported to have shown their interest with Real Valladolid from Spain and Turkish giants Galatasaray, which used to be home to former Zimbabwe international Norman Mapeza, also reportedly monitoring the former Prince Edward High School pupil.
Turkish side Besiktas was also reportedly in the race, amid revelations that French Ligue 1 side Lyon were the first to make an offer for the player.
“Like I said, I’m a Le Havre player,” said Kadewere.
“I focus on that. We have three big games coming up with Niort, Troyes and Lens. You really have to focus on these games to climb the rankings.
“But if something good and good for the club and for me comes up, obviously we are open to consider the offers with my agent.
“Le Havre gave me a chance by buying me when I was injured and I have a lot of love for this club. But if something good for me and the club comes up, then why not . . . England can be a good destination, but staying in France is good too,” he told French website Maligue2.
Kadewere, who still have two years on his contract with Le Havre, needs an environment where his talent can be cultivated and aided to reach his optimum without having to place him under a lot of pressure.
At the moment, Lyon appears the best destination for him because of his knowledge of the French culture and its football.
Kadewere’s stock has risen dramatically in the last few months.
He was brought to France by Le Havre for €2,5 million from Swedish side Djurgardens in July 2018.
He had arrived in Sweden three years back from Harare City for a reported fee of €150 000.
Reports from France yesterday claimed Celtic and Al-Rayan had both made “concrete approaches’’ for the striker, with the Qatari side understood to have tabled an €8 million bid.
But France remains the best option at the moment.
Lyon are one of the big teams in France, but they are currently going through a tough period and are sitting 12th in the French Ligue 1.
They need a quick turnaround of fortunes to boost their campaign.
The English Premiership was also going to be good for Kadewere, with the available choices of either Bournemouth or Southampton.
Whilst the English Premier League is a pressure cooker, adapting to the extremely demanding conditions could also have helped toughen him up.
At the same time, the weight of expectation and the spotlight could crush him if he doesn’t handle it well.
Qatar has the lure of the big money, but a move to Al-Rayan may not help him grow.
His agent Jihed Taniche insisted Kadewere was clear about what he wanted in his career, in an interview with Bein Sports.
“Tino is delighted with the first half of the season and does not intend to slow down. Like in the final days of the summer transfer window, the player remains calm and is focused on his performances.
“Tino has a career plan and knows where he wants to go and when. Several clubs have approached us since last summer and the discussions continue today.
“I have seen Kadewere’s name associated with English agents and others in recent days in the English press, that is absolutely false! It is always the same story: a number of intermediaries try to insert themselves into the situation.
“I am the only representative of the player, the only individual who has the right to talk for him. No mandate has been given to anyone, not by me, nor by Le Havre.
“All the scenarios are possible. Tino could very well be transferred and then loaned back to Le Havre to continue until the end of the season.
“We are working in close collaboration with Le Havre to find a solution that will enable the club to achieve its goals. We are talking with some clubs abroad and in Ligue 1. I can just confirm that we are talking with very good French clubs,” said Taniche.