THE transfer circus involving Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko over Charles Taylor has taken a new twist with the player now looking towards Europe to continue his career.
The two clubs have in the last few days been engaged in a fierce tussle over Taylor but it appears the reigning goal-king is about to swerve Kotoko and commence a dream professional career in Switzerland.
As of last Monday, the gifted player looked ready to break his contract with Hearts and cross carpet to Kotoko who had enticed him with a sumptuous offer of c400 million, a house and a brand new VW Golf car.
Barring any eleventh hour hitch, Taylor will be leaving for Switzerland this weekend to sign for top Swiss club FC Zurich in a deal reportedly worth over $200,000.
Last Wednesday, the Swiss club faxed details of the Taylor deal to Hearts. The Swiss move is the preferred option for Hearts who had vowed never to release their asset at any prize to rivals, Kotoko.
Hearts are currently suffocating as a result of financial difficulties and the Swiss deal looks a God-send opportunity for the Phobians to offset some of their huge debts, as the creditors are already knocking on their doors.
Taylor’s imminent exit also means that Hearts will commence their 2003 continental campaign without the services of the premiership’s top marksman who was key to the club’s African Cup success in 2000.
Last month, the Sefwi-born star undertook a two-week trial with the Zurich club who are ready to sign on the Ghanaian international.
Sources close to the player revealed that Taylor became disturbed at his inability to secure a foreign contract and in his frustration got carried away by Kotoko’s mouth-watering overtures that he chose a legally dangerous option of breaking his contract Yaw Asamoah-style.
Taylor initially denied flirting with the Porcupine Warriors after he visited Kotoko’s training grounds in Kumasi, but later developments lift the lid on the controversial, soap opera-style transfer saga in which the two clubs claim the rights over the player.
In fact, Mr Jonathan Badu Laryea, a self-proclaimed manager of the player, insisted that his ward signed a two-year contract with Kotoko last week. Until the new turn of events, Hearts management had vowed never to release the player at any cost to their arch-rivals who, in spite of Taylor’s recent contract renewal, were confident they could prise him away from Accra to Oseikrom in the biggest player transfer coups in recent years.
Taylor’s failure to train with the Hearts team since the lid was lifted over his flirt with Kotoko for the past week has further deepened among football fans, the uncertainty about the player’s future and speculation about his next destination.
Four seasons ago, both Hearts and Kotoko were locked in a struggle over Taylor’s signature until the Phobians eventually won the battle after splashing out a record c90 million to Accra Great Olympics. Since then, however, Kotoko had always courted the reigning goal-king and 2002 SWAG Footballer of the Year. In reaction to media reports over the Taylor rumpus, Hearts have stated emphatically that Taylor is under a written contract with the club and would therefore ensure that the terms of the contract are observed and enforced no matter the circumstances and who is involved.
Hearts’ Administrative Manager, Mr Ashford Tettey Oku, in a press release yesterday stated that, even though the club does not wish to impede the “lawful and civilised move” of any of their players to any club locally or internationally, Hearts would use their discretion to release a player, especially since the closure of CAF’s register makes it impossible to replace a player already registered for their continental campaign.
Hearts also say that they will not transact any business with Mr Laryea in matters concerning Taylor because the so-called manager is not recognised by the Ghana Football Association and FIFA to act as a licensed player agent and manager, following due diligence conducted on him.
“We are guided by the GFA circular of July 5 last year, which affirmed the illegitimacy of dealing with Player Agents/Managers and, the prescribed sanctions for clubs and individuals who flout this FIFA Provisions,” Hearts stated.