Why New York are likely to sign Tefu

READ: Mashamaite starts New York trial

Mashamaite started training with Manchester City’s expansion franchise in the United States on Wednesday and was pictured in action alongside marquee midfielder Frank Lampard.

There are strong indications that a deal for Mashamaite is likely to happen as the new MLS side is known to be looking to bolster their defence, a problem area for the fledgling team, who are playing in their first MLS campaign.

Currently Manchester City youngster Shay Facey and American defender Jason Hernandez are the first-choice pairing for coach Jason Kreis’ team, but Mashamaite is reportedly being earmarked for the latter’s position.

Mashamaite, strong in the air and the tackle, a good reader of the game and reliable with his distribution from the back, is exactly the type of defensive player the club is looking for.

Sources close to the club say their main weakness at the back has been at set-pieces, both defensively and offensively – an area where Mashamaite excels – as well as in poor distribution and possession from the backline.

With Lampard in midfield and Andrea Pirlo’s arrival reportedly imminent, City will need more experienced defensive players who are also comfortable in possession to complement their possession-style game.

Mashamaite would also be a good foil for his potential centre-back partner Facey, who is shorter but has more pace than the taller, more seasoned Mashamaite.

Former United States and AC Milan centre-back Oguchi Onyewu was previously training with the club but is now injured, opening the door for the free agent PSL Footballer of the Season.

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Odds are the club will take a calculated gamble on 30-year-old Mashamaite, with sources estimating the South African could easily be offered up to $200 000 a year (R205 000 a month), or more, depending on whether he is signed as a starting player and which player in their current roster he replaces.

MLS teams have a total salary cap of $3.49-million for the first 20 ordinary players in their squads, not counting three Designated Players (DPs) like Lampard, who earns far more (reportedly $6-million). The maximum a single ordinary player can earn (without a special ‘buy-down’ from allocation money) is $436 250 a year (R447 000 a month).

Also working in Mashamaite’s favour is that young loanee Facey is likely to return to Manchester at the end of the MLS season in October, meaning another centre-back will be needed in future whether in the starting lineup or not.

The club has recently signed Jose Angel Tasende – known as Angelino and also from the Manchester City development ranks – as their new left-back, with experienced ex-Athletic Bilbao right-back Andoni Iraola signed for the other side.

New York City are at the halfway point of the MLS season and are second from bottom in the Eastern Conference with 17 points from 17 games.

David Villa has scored six goals in 14 appearances for the club, while Lampard will make his debut on July 12 against Toronto FC.