UPDATE: Tuesday, January 17, 2017.
Paul Mitchell, the agent of Keagan Dolly, confirmed reports that City Football Group were looking to sign the South African midfielder.
“They (Sundowns) speak as if Dolly was wanted by Manchester City from England, but if you read the letter carefully, you will see that City [Football Group] wanted to take him to some of their teams. Manchester City has too many clubs under their name. They have teams in USA, India and Australia. They wanted to take Dolly to New York City in USA. We refused because there are teams that want him in Europe.”
Mitchell added that he has no intentions of letting him play in MLS when there are offers for him to play with clubs currently in the Champions League. “The MLS is more or less similar to the South African league. The majority of the players there play for money, but Keagan still wants to make a name for himself,” added Mitchell.
South African club Malemodi Sundowns have released documentation indicating City Football Group interest in midfielder Keagan Dolly. The release comes on the heels of a rising dispute between the club and the player’s father, Ramon Dolly, who publicly expressed disbelief in the until-now rumored interest.
According to South African publication Sowetan Live, Ramon Dolly insists he called the Manchester offices in England inquiring about their reported interest in his son, only to be met with bewilderment. He alleges the club had “never heard of anyone named Dolly.”
In response, Sundowns manager Sizwe Nzimande and team owner Patrice Motsepe have released the letter received from CFG Football Administrator Brian Marwood:
For the attention of Patrice Motsepe
On behalf of City Football Group I am contacting you in respect of your player, Keagan Dolly. We have been following the players performances for some time and believe he has the ability to play at a number of Clubs within the Group.
If it is acceptable to both yourself and the player, we would like to invite you both to the City Football Academy at the earliest opportunity to discuss this matter further and meet key personnel within the Group.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the above.
MD City Football Services
The letter does not explicitly state the particular club that had interest in Dolly, but according to reports, City Football Group’s plan was to purchase the player from Sundowns, send him to one of New York City, Melbourne City of the A-League or Yokohama F. Marinos of the J-League while he – hopefully – accrued service time with the South African national team. It appears that Dolly would have a difficult time obtaining a work permit from the English FA, as South Africa is outside the FIFA Top 50 (currently ranked 60th) and his modest £1.5m buyout would not accrue him enough “points” from the FA to pass the appeals process.
Further drama surrounds the saga, as Dolly’s father has also accused the club of altering Keagan’s contract after receiving an offer from Greek club Olympiacos, seemingly triggering the player’s release clause. The value of the release – originally listed in his 2015 contract as €733,333, was reportedly a “mistake” according to Motsepe. Dolly’s previous buyout in 2014 was £1.5m (roughly €1m more than his 2015 buyout). The South African Football governing body ruled in the club’s favor, allowing them to alter the terms of the contract after the fact, effectively amending their alleged mistake and voiding the buyout trigger from Olympiacos.
It remains to be seen whether or not Dolly will be leaving South Africa soon, as City’s interest has reportedly fluctuated since the letter was sent in August of 2016. In addition to CFG and Olympiacos, French club Montpellier has also shown interest in signing Dolly, who will likely be featured in the Bafana Bafana midfield in the future, after being named to the CAFs Africa Best XI. If CFG should decide to make a move for him, New York would be his most likely landing spot, as Sundowns themselves reportedly quashed a previously-planned move to Melbourne.