Jomo Sono's Tebogo Tlolane sent to Barcelona for 'assessment'

Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

In one of the more bizarre potential transfers this year, South African second division side Jomo Cosmos have announced that they are sending 22-year-old midfielder Tebogo Tlolane on a two-week 'assessment' ...to Spanish giants Barcelona.

Tlolane is little heralded in his own country, but it appears as though he has been given a dream opportunity to make an impression on the Catalan side.

According to a statement from Cosmos on Friday, Tlolane was spotted by Barcelona scouts and invited to spend two weeks in Spain.

"This is indeed an overwhelming opportunity for me," he told the Comos' official website. "I am so excited I cannot find the right words to describe my feelings.

"This is going to be my first trip outside South Africa, and I am going there with the mentality of a novice because I believe I still have a lot to learn in the game.

"It feels so awesome to be given such a rare opportunity to go learn from the best and rub shoulders with my idol Lionel Messi whom I consider to be greatest footballer of our generation."

Tlolane has heaped praise on Cosmos owner and former Bafana Bafana coach Jomo Sono, once the understudy to the legendary Brazilian Pele at New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League.

"I need to give thanks to my coach and mentor, the great Jomo Sono, who made it all possible by giving me the chance to showcase my abilities in the league," added Tlolane. "But even more importantly, I need to make him proud by making use of this rare opportunity."

It is likely that Sono's contacts in Europe, which are extensive, have helped smooth the path for the stint at Barcelona, perhaps as a reward for Cosmos agreeing to send promising 17-year-old Bafana Tshawe to the Barcelona Academy.

Sono likes sending players to Europe to experience training and conditions there when he gets the opportunity, and it would seem as though this is one such initiative.

Given his age, Tshawe appears to be a more likely target for the Spanish club.

Tlolane has made 16 starts, six substitute appearances and scored a single goal in South Africa's National First Division this season.