Quique Sanchez Flores has come to terms with Al Ain and will take over as coach from next week, The National has learned.
A source at the club today said the deal has been sealed, and the 48-year-old Spaniard will run the team after tonight’s Arabian Gulf League match at Al Dhafra.
The deal completes what is, essentially, a swap of coaches between Al Ain and Al Ahli, currently the country’s most prominent clubs.
Cosmin Olaroiu led Al Ain to league championships the past two seasons but jumped to Ahli during the summer, replacing Sanchez Flores, who left at the end of his two-year contract with the Dubai club.
Ahli won two trophies under the Spaniard’s guidance, the League Cup in 2012 and the President’s Cup earlier this year.
The trade of coaches figures to make the recent rivalry between the club, which most recently included Ahli winning the Super Cup from Al Ain in a shootout, even more interesting.
Sanchez Flores, a defender, played for Valencia, Real Madrid and Zaragoza. His first job managing a first team was at Getafe, in 2004, and since then he has led Valencia, whom he took to the Uefa Champions League quarter-finals, Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Ahli.
He replaces Jorge Fossati, the Uruguayan who replaced Olaroiu, only to be dismissed by Al Ain after 49 days, and ends a week of speculation that variously had him close to signing, stalled in negotiations and a candidate for the Galatasaray job.