AL AIN // Al Ain's preparations for the new season has received a major blow after Jorge Valdivia, their inspirational Chilean playmaker, left the club to return to Brazil and rejoin his former team Palmeiras on a new five-year contract - less than a month before the new campaign kicks off. Valdivia, 26, who left Al Ain's training camp in Austria on Tuesday to fly back to Brazil to complete the deal, was half way through his four-year contract with the nine-time UAE champions. Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, the Palmeiras president, confirmed Valdivia's return to the club where he was a cult hero on the team's website.
"I want to assemble a team to give love to the fans," Belluzzo said. "In the streets, people always spoke of Luiz Felipe Scolari and Valdivia. I hope they are now satisfied." Valdivia will be coached by "Big Phil" Scolari, the man who guided Brazil to their 2002 World Cup triumph, who also returned to Palmeiras after two seasons with the big-spending Uzbekistan side Bunyodkor. Scolari won the Copa Libertadores in 1999, South America's equivalent of the European Champions League, in his last spell with the club between 1997 and 2000. firstname.lastname@example.org