x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Grafite's influence at Al Ahli may outgrow all this season

Statistics suggest Grafite is the most influential player in the league, probably bigger than Al Ain's Asamoah Gyan.

Al Ahli's Grafite is only one goal less than Asamoah Gyan on the top-scorer list.
Al Ahli's Grafite is only one goal less than Asamoah Gyan on the top-scorer list.

Last week, after Al Ahli's 6-2 win at Al Wahda, Quique Sanchez Flores, the visiting coach, was asked about the influence of his Brazilian striker, Grafite, on the team.

The Spaniard praised him as a "special" player, a "role model" and an "inspiration" for the other members of the squad. However, he denied Ahli are a one-man show.

It would be hard to argue against that, especially when a team has Luis Jimenez and Achille Emana in their squad. Ahli can also boast attacking talents such as Ahmed Khalil and Ismail Al Hammadi, and Majed Hassan has made great strides.

But when a player scores 16 goals in eight Pro League appearances, he is bound to dominate conversations. Twice Grafite has scored four goals in a match - against quality sides such as Al Ain and Wahda. He scored another hat-trick in the win over Al Shabab.

In the two matches he failed to score, Ahli lost to Al Jazira and drew 0-0 with Baniyas; in the one game he missed, Ahli were held to a 1-1 draw by Dubai.

Those statistics suggest Grafite is the most influential player in the league, probably bigger than Al Ain's Asamoah Gyan.

For Ahli, Grafite has scored 16 of their 26 goals; Jimenez (five), Emana (three), Ali Hussain (one) and Bashir Saeed (one) are the other contributors.

These numbers are clear evidence of the Brazilian's massive impact on the fortunes of his team and an impressed Jimenez is "convinced" Grafite is the "best professional outside of Europe" at the moment.

Not many would argue against that claim.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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