DUBAI // Ahmed Khalifa, chief executive of Al Ahli club, has hailed Ricardo Quaresma's arrival at the Rashid Stadium as a major coup and a great boost as the Red Knights chase Al Ain for the Pro League title.
Quaresma, a Portugual international with 36 caps, has signed an 18-month deal with the option of extending it by a further 12 months.
The former Barcelona and Inter Milan winger will replace Achille Emana in Quique Sanchez Flores's squad, who are third in the Pro League at the mid-way stage with 26 points, one behind Al Jazira and trailing champions Al Ain by eight.
"We are always trying to improve the squad and provide the coaching staff with the tools they require for creating a successful team," Khalifa said last night. "We have brought Quaresma with the same intention and I am confident his presence will be a great boost in the second half of the season. It should give us a push in our title chase."
Quaresma, who can operate on both flanks and through the middle, has played for some of Europe's biggest clubs such as Chelsea and Porto, and Khalifa believes Ahli were lucky to find such a player during the January transfer window.
"During this transfer window, it is very difficult to find players of quality like Quaresma," he said. "But we were lucky that he is a free agent. He was in Dubai, he saw the country and liked it. That made the task of convincing him a lot easier."
Quaresma has returned home after signing the deal, but is expected to return to Dubai on Wednesday after completing his personal obligations in Portugal.
The 29 year old's arrivals is perfect timing for Ahli since prolific striker Grafite is serving a six-match ban, which would see him miss the first four league matches when the competition resumes following 35-day break for the Gulf Cup.
Quaresma had been playing for Besiktas in Turkey since 2010, but was released last month following an altercation with his coach Carlos Carvalhal.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE