DIRECTV W Connection will lose their top goal scorer Jerrel Britto for the upcoming 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League campaign as the former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team striker has agreed terms with mid-table Guatemala football club, Deportivo Malacateco.
Britto, whose 15 Pro League goals placed him among the top five scorers, leaves on Saturday evening for a one-year contract with the Guatemalan outfit, which is based in the municipality of Malacatán near the Mexican border.
“I spent four years at Connection and felt it would be nice to have a new challenge,” said Britto, who leaves Connection as a free agent. “And I am just looking for betterment for my family… This is my first contract outside (of Trinidad and Tobago) and I have always been waiting on this.”
Britto, who leaves Connection as a free agent, is expecting his first child with girlfriend Nadia Lambert, who is six months pregnant. And the 23-year-old attacker, who can operate upfront or as a winger, thinks the time is right to seek out his fortunes abroad.
His departure means Connection will start next season without virtually their entire forward line.
Hashim Arcia has joined the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, although his transfer is not yet finalised, while teenaged winger Akeem Garcia is due for a knee operation—after allegedly picking up an injury while training with the National Under-23 Team—and Shahdon Winchester is likely to return abroad on another loan deal.
“That is the business of football,” Connection chairman David John-Williams told Wired868. “We are entitled to compensation for (Britto from Malacateco), just as we paid compensation for him when he came from Jabloteh at 19. It is a good move for him and we wish him well.”
Britto’s legal representatives, the United States-based Pan American Calcio, have denied that Malacateco owes any compensation money to Connection, though.
“It’s a false claim that Malacateco needs to pay compensation to W Connection,” stated a Pan American Calcio representative. “According to Fifa rules, development fee is only paid if the player leaves before age 23 or during the season when he turns 23.
“Britto has not signed with Malacateco yet and he turned 23 last week. He is by all means a free agent.”
FIFA’s by-laws appear to confirm Pan American Calcio’s position, which could mean that Connection have lost out financially by allowing Britto’s contract to expire.
Williams said Connection would not block Arcia’s impending move to rivals Defence Force either, although the silky and versatile 26-year-old playmaker has another two years on his contract with the “Savonetta Boys.”
“I can stick to my guns and say (Arcia) has to see out his contract but I won’t do him that,” said John-Williams. “He is a player we have always supported because of his attitude and the way he always carried himself at Connection. He has always been a good ambassador for our football club.
“It is more humanitarian than anything else.”
Thus far, John-Williams suggested that Connection will promote players from within their squad. Electric Surinamese attacker Dimitrie Apai is set to return from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of last season while pacy but injury-prone National Under-23 frontman Neil Benjamin Jr should also return to the starting team.
There is an opportunity too for utility player Aikim Andrews to stake his claim for an attacking posting while another National Under-23 player, Jomal Williams, is expected to inherit Arcia’s playmaking responsibilities.
Connection’s 2015/16 season starts on August 5 when they travel to face Mexican club champions, Santos, in CONCACAF action.
Meanwhile, Britto’s future lies in Central America. Already he is trying to think in Spanish, although his representatives, who he met earlier this year on the Soca Warriors Online website, arranged with his new employer for the hiring of a translator.
“I’ve been learning a couple of things in Spanish,” said Britto, who represented his country at Under-17 and Under-20 levels. “I’ve downloaded (an app) on my phone that is helping… My plan is to use this as a stepping stone and hopefully I can perform so more doors will open and I can move up the charts…
“My ambition is to make it to the top and to be able to represent my country at the highest level.”