Why Brighton's Percy Tau will not play at the Olympics for South Africa

Percy Tau will not compete at the Tokyo Olympics as an over-aged player for South Africa despite being named in the provisional squad.
Percy Tau made one Premier League start for Brighton last seasonPercy Tau made one Premier League start for Brighton last season
Percy Tau made one Premier League start for Brighton last season

It is understood Brighton refused to release Tau for the South African under-23s, who will compete in a tricky looking Olympic Group A alongside Mexico, France and host national Japan.

Football at the Olympics is scheduled to start on July 22 but Tau is expected to report back for pre-season training in the second week of July and be part of the Albion training camp in Scotland in mid-July.

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Argentina midfielder Alexis Mac Allister will now be Brighton’s lone representative in Tokyo as he’s set to join the Argentina under-23s and will compete in Group C, alongside Egypt, Spain and Australia.

Tau, 27, made just one Premier League start for Brighton last season after he was recalled from his loan at Anderlecht. The former Mamelodi Sundowns star is South Africa’s best player and was earmarked to be one of the three permitted over aged players in David Notoane’s under-23s squad.

“It is off-season, some of the players were really willing and committed to the process when we started,” Notoane said.

“But you find out there are a lot of issues the players had to navigate. The issue of the foreign-based players like Percy Tau, the club wrote that they are not going to release him.

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“These clubs are not obliged as per Fifa rules to release these players, hence we are allowed to register 50 players. So clubs are taking advantage of that situation. We tried to engage them, negotiate and navigate.”

Brighton’s reluctance to release Tau could indicate the South African is a big part of Graham Potter’s plans for the upcoming Premier League campaign that starts August 14 at Burnley.

Tau, who signed for Brighton for £2.7m from Sundowns in 2018, enjoyed successful loan spells in Belgium with Union SG, Club Brugge and Anderlecht.

Brighton recalled the left footed attacker from his loan in the new year and he made an impressive first team debut during a narrow 1-0 loss at champions Man City in January.

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He came off the bench in a 1-0 win at Leeds but then didn’t feature in the league until the 1-1 home draw against West Ham in May, where he came on as a second half substitute and his sublime assist teed-up Danny Welbeck’s opener.