Thembinkosi Lorch’s unexpected departure from Orlando Pirates to Mamelodi Sundowns was not achieved on good terms, a decision that has since left the club bosses, including chairman Irvin Khoza, fuming.
Lorch is said to have been unhappy during his last days at Pirates, despite the efforts made by Khoza to ensure that he keeps the poster boy at the club longer by tying him down to a new contract.
It has come to the attention of Sunday World that there has been some bad blood between the attacking midfielder and the Pirates hierarchy in recent months. This is because Lorch was refusing to renew his contract with the Buccaneers.
It has also emerged that Lorch had a long-standing agreement on principle with Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena some time ago – that he would not renew his contract with Pirates and expressed his desire to reunite with him at Chloorkop.
Mokwena is said to be an admirer of Lorch, whom he coached during his brief coaching stint with the Sea Robbers.
Lorch was on his last six months of his contract at Pirates and would have been eligible to sign a pre-contract with a club of his choice – a move that the defending champions and PSL big spenders Sundowns would have pounced on.
Sensing losing Lorch for free, Pirates were left with no choice but to negotiate a deal for his immediate release on the last day of the January transfer window period on Friday night.
The 30-year-old star midfielder is believed to have wanted a bigger pay cheque – a demand that was delayed by the club until the last minute when Sundowns came knocking and made the call to acquire the player’s services.
“Lorch had two options, to sign for Sundowns or maybe go with Pitso Mosimane to the Middle East – even previously, he was keen to join Mosimane at one of his previous clubs.
“He has always shown a huge interest in going to play abroad. He was not willing to renew, and things were now difficult for him at Pirates,” said a well-placed insider within the Bucs ship.
Said another informer who is close to the dribbling wizard: “Everything happened so fast. The two clubs agreed on a fee, and Lorch was told that a deal was done with Sundowns.
“He had been unhappy for some time [at Pirates], and you could see with his body language, even on the field. His eyes were now on Sundowns. And more than anything, it was just a business decision – he got a massive offer, and he took it.
“He is turning 31 years old this year and has to take care of his future and his family. He will also get a nice signing-on fee, and it was too good to refuse.”
Said Pirates media officer Thandi Merafe: “The narrative is completely false. The club has always been behind Thembinkosi Lorch.”
Lorch follows in the footsteps of the late Gift Leremi, Lebohang Mokoena, Teko Modise and Oupa Manyisa, who also jumped ship directly from
Pirates to Sundowns.