Former Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United striker Kermit Erasmus is clubless following his release from French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennes on Thursday night.
Rennes’ decision to terminate Erasmus’ contract came as a shock to the majority of South African football fans, but to those who’ve been following his career abroad, this was long overdue.
Erasmus moved to France in January 2016 after some promising displays for the Buccaneers, but while a lot was expected from him given the experience he had gained over the years, the diminutive striker never really cracked it.
For many years now, Pitso Mosimane has been accused of wanting to deny a few of his star players at Mamelodi Sundowns the opportunity to play in Europe.
Mosimane is often against the idea of South African footballers moving to Europe way too early.
And Erasmus’ departure from Rennes proves that the former Bafana Bafana has been right all along, although he never really went public about the striker’s move to France.
With that said, Erasmus’ situation should be a lesson to the majority of South African players, who still want to ply their trade in Europe, especially in the top five leagues.
Having begun his professional career with SuperSport United a decade ago, Erasmus’ career hasn’t really taken off, although there were times where he shone for various clubs.
But he tends to thrive at lower leagues where there’s less competition. Erasmus moved to Europe at a very young age, after just a season with Matsatsantsa in 2008.
At the time, there were no expectations for him at Dutch Eredivisie side Feyenoord, and to show that he wasn’t ready for the European stage, he managed only four games which amounted to 32 minutes on the pitch all season.
Erasmus was loaned out to Excelsior [then playing second division football] the following the season, and showed glimpses of what he can do by scoring 11 goals in 29 league matches, but his efforts weren’t enough to earn him a recall to Feyenoord or even a move to another big club as he returned to the PSL to link up with SuperSport for a second spell.
In his three seasons there, Erasmus could only manage 14 league goals. In fact, he has never scored 15 league goals in a single season, meaning that it was always going to be difficult for him to achieve that in the French Ligue 1 when he had never done it any of his previous clubs.
European teams invest more on proven goalscorers than strikers who are still trying to make a name for themselves, especially when you’re from the South African league.
The only time Erasmus netted 15 goals in one season was during the 2014/15 campaign whilst on the books of Pirates, but since then, his career has taken a nosedive, and the question is whether or not European clubs will still fight for his signature now that he’s a free agent.
Erasmus was given a fair chance to prove his worth whilst on loan at Lens in the French Ligue 2, but a single goal in 12 appearances is still not up to the required standard to be considered a top marksman.
Rennes would also claim to have given him enough time to find his feet, even after recalling him from Lens at the start of the season, but goals appeared to have dried up, and Erasmus will have to find ways to recharge his batteries and work on rediscovering the form that made him one of the darlings of South African football three seasons ago.
As things stand, it doesn’t look like Erasmus has a future in Europe, and the only option for him right now is to come back home and try harder, although he would still have to convince whoever wants to sign him that he’s deserving of a contract given that he’s featured just twice this season for Rennes reserve team without finding the back of the net.
PSL teams would also have to think twice before signing Erasmus, especially because the big guns have already bolstered their striking departments with some quality strikers.
SuperSport have Evans Rusike, Pirates recently signed Augustine Mulenga, and still have Justin Shonga, who is similar to Erasmus, while Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs acquired the services of Jeremy Brockie and Leonardo Castro respectively.
Bidvest Wits might the perfect place for Erasmus given their struggles in front of goal so far this season. They have been signing almost everyone who’s available, but whether or not they can meet Erasmus’ salary demands remains to be seen, especially after the hard lessons they could have learned with Steven Pienaar, who returned from England, only to be fail dismally in a less competitive league.