Grace Chingoma, Senior Sports Reporter
TINO KADEWERE has struck the jackpot in France, with the Zimbabwean international footballer set to earn about US$2,2 million a year in annual gross pay, after moving to Ligue 1 giants Olympique Lyon.
That will earn him around US$42 500 a week, before other perks and bonuses.
The lanky forward, who turned 24 on January 5 this year, became the hottest property in the second-tier of Euro football’s Big Five Leagues with his hot-scoring streak at Le Havre.
He has now moved to seven-time French champions. However, he will remain at Le Havre on loan, until the end of the season, and join his new club at the start of next season.
Kadewere joins a club with a rich tradition in European football.
Lyon provided the springboard for the likes of Hugo Lloris to move to Spurs, Samuel Umtiti to Barcelona, Miralem Pjanic to Juventus, Alexandre Lacazette to Arsenal and Karim Benzema to Real Madrid.
He is also set to join illustrious company at Lyon who are captained by Dutchman, Memphis Depay, the former Manchester United forward, highly-rated Burkinabe Betrand Traore, who had a stint at Chelsea and Moussa Dembele, who is wanted by the Red Devils.
Dembele is also being chased by Chelsea after scoring 13 goals in 28 games this season.
It’s a record-breaking deal for the Zimbabwean and The Herald can report that:
The €15 million (about US$16,5 million) Lyon will pay for Tino Kadewere is the biggest transfer fee ever paid for a Zimbabwean footballer
The Zimbabwean will earn around €2 million (about US$2,2 million gross annual, US$42 502 per week) before other perks and bonuses
Dutchman Depay is the highest paid player at Lyon on about US$92 214 a week, US$4,626 million a year, before bonuses
Lyon are the club that sold Lloris (Spurs), Umtiti (Barcelona), Pjanic (Juventus), Lacazette (Arsenal), Benzema (Real Madrid)
Le Havre confirmed late on Tuesday, as reported in The Herald yesterday, that Kadewere had moved to Lyon but would remain in their fold, on loan, until the end of the season.
His deal dwarfs the transfer fee which Aston Villa paid to get Marvelous Nakamba from Belgium.
Kadewere will join his fellow Warriors teammate, Marshall Munetsi, in the French top-flight league and will be hoping that, like Benjani before him, he can make another huge impression to go and play in the riches of the English Premiership.
Benjani made a big impact at AJ Auxerre and caught the eyes of former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, who then recommended him to Harry Redknapp, then the boss at Portsmouth, to sign him for Pompey for a record club fee in 2006.
Portsmouth paid £4,1 million for Benjani which, in today’s inflated market, could be between US$12 to US$15 million.
Former Zimbabwe international Moses Chunga, the first man to publicly back Kadewere as a potential success story in Europe, said he wasn’t surprised by what is happening to the forward.
Kadewere was then an unknown player, struggling to lead the line at Harare City, when Chunga — who has a good eye for fresh talent — made the bold declaration.
“I think, with his style of play, he needs to play for a season at Lyon,’’ said Chunga. ‘’I think he has made a good decision.
“He is on the right track. If you are a gunman, and you regularly score, you will build the confidence. We just pray to the Almighty that he doesn’t become prone to injuries.
“God willing, he will scale to even greater heights.’’
Kadewere has had a brilliant outing at Ligue 2 side Le Havre, where he scored 18 goals in 20 games this season.
His performance has, understandably, attracted interest from several top European clubs with a number of English Premiership outfits reported to be interested in his services.
Newcastle United and Crystal Palace were angling for his signature but it appears his handlers have decided his best interests would be served by first taking on the tougher defenders in the French Ligue 1.
Chunga also leapt to Kadewere’s defence, when it comes to criticism about is performances for the national team, where some critics feel the forward, who has been part of the side for the past two years now, is yet to reproduce the form he shows for his clubs.
“National team is a bit tricky because it is result-oriented mission and results are demanded there and then,’’ said Chunga.
‘‘You only have about three or four games per year to make an impression, if we don’t have tournaments, and for players trying to adjust into the team, it becomes a problem. There is also the issue of pressure, because some fans want him to do a lot, when they see him play, they want him to do better than what, let’s say, Knowledge Musona or Khama Billiat are doing and that puts pressure on the young man.
‘‘You also have to consider that coaches have different philosophies, for example when it comes to Giroud (Olivier), some coaches would never field him in a national team but France won the World Cup with him being part of the side.
‘‘Giroud is a type of a striker who brings other players into the game but coaches have different preferences and philosophies.’’
Footballers Union of Zimbabwe president, Desmond Maringwa, also hailed Kadewere’s latest move saying the player has been patient.
“We are happy with his progress. I think he has been patient. He started with a smaller team in Sweden, in a country which is also small in terms of football and then went to France to a team in the lower league. He has been developing and is still young and has adjusted to playing in Europe. He is a role model to other up-and-coming players that it can be done.
“It’s really commendable, what he has done and achieved.’’
A 2009 survey in France ranked Lyon as the second best supported side, with 11 percent of the country’s football fans supporting the club.
The survey showed they had the same support base, across France, as giants Paris Saint-Germain.
However, the most supported football club in France is Olympique Marseille.
Known as ‘‘The Kids’’, Lyon have reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Cup Winners Cup in their history.
They have the most successful women’s football team in European football which has won a record 15 eague titles and the UEFA Women Champions League in 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.