ABU DHABI // Baniyas hope the signing of David Trezeguet will galvanise their young squad and help them close the gap on Al Jazira, the runaway league champions last season.
The Abu Dhabi club finished fourth in 2009/10 and followed that up by finishing in second place, 12 points behind Jazira, last season, earning themselves a spot in this season's Asian Champions League.
With a new coach in Jorvan Vieira also in place and Trezeguet on board to partner last season's leading scorer, Andre Senghor, who netted 18 goals in the top flight, in attack, they have signalled their intent to mount another title challenge this term.
"He [Trezeguet] is a big signing for the club," Vieira said. "He can bring some positive things to the club. The average age of our squad is 21 years, so we're hoping he can add some experience to the side.
"The squad can only learn by playing alongside someone with his experience and the knowledge he brings with him."
Trezeguet signed a one-year deal last week after a summer of negotiations with a number of leading clubs in Italy, France and England failed to yield anything concrete.
Vieira played a role in what has been the league's highest-profile player signing so far this season. "A friend of mine told me Trezeguet was interested and I passed on that to the club board, who then took it on," he said.
Trezeguet, the former World Cup and European championship winner with France, left the Spanish side Hercules on a free transfer in the summer after the side were relegated from the Primera Liga.
And his exploits last season - 12 goals in 31 appearances of top-flight Spanish football - suggest the 33 year old still has plenty to offer.
"We know his past, the way he has managed his life and his hard-working nature," Vieira said. "He scored many goals [171 in all and 138 in 245 league games] at Juventus, and that's not easy to do in a league like Italy's where there is such strong defence, so he is a very positive signing for us."
Much the same could be said of Vieira, who has coached in the region for over 30 years, most notably leading Iraq to a surprise Asian Cup title in 2007.
He took over as caretaker coach of UAE club Kalba last season from fellow Brazilian Ignacio Patricio and, despite overseeing a rise in the club's fortunes, could not prevent the side's relegation. He joined Baniyas in the summer on a two-year deal and though expectations will be high, Vieira refused to set any targets.
"Last year, the league was a little weak, but this year teams have new players and there are stronger sides, so it won't be easy," said the Brazilian.
"Last season the club finished second but I never promise anything. I have come here to win. I have my targets and I want the club to win games, but we are not alone."