x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ahli snap up Madanchi

The Iranian left-winger fills vacant Asian slot as Dubai club sign international after preferred choice Nakamura opts to play in Spain.

Mehrzad Madanchi will be in Al Ahli colours next season.
Mehrzad Madanchi will be in Al Ahli colours next season.

DUBAI // Al Ahli may have missed out on the Espanyol-bound set-piece specialist Shunsuke Nakamura, but they have managed to secure the services of Mehrzad Madanchi. Iranian international Madanchi yesterday agreed to a one-year deal to be the Dubai club's Asian player for the next season, with the 24-year-old set to replace his compatriot Milad Meydavoudi.

Abdulmajeed Hussain, supervisor of Ahli's Pro League-winning first team, said Madanchi would fit into the team well. "Madanchi is playing more or less as a left-winger or on the left side of the midfield, and we thought we needed someone for that position in our team. "He has more experience than Milad and plays for the Iranian national team. "He also has been playing in the UAE for two years now, so we believe he is the one who can help the team in this position," Abdulmajeed added.

Madanchi had an excellent first season in the UAE with Al Shaab, but failed to achieve similar success with Al Nasr last year and was released by the club. But Abdulmajeed rushed to the player's defence, saying: "He could not perform at the same level last year, but he still did well. "There were many problems at Al Nasr, so we cannot really blame the player. "Anyway, we looked at the quality he has and what he can bring to the team; not what he achieved with Al Nasr.

"He has a good percentage of scoring and a high work-rate. He is quick and can switch from offence to defence," he added. Abdulmajeed admitted, however, that Japan's Nakamura was Ahli's original choice for the Asian player's spot. Nakamura has made 119 appearances for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League and won three league titles with Glasgow team. "The negotiations with Madanchi did not take a long time," Abdulmajeed added.

"Once we knew that Nakamura had signed with Espanyol, we shifted our focus to Madanchi and within 10 days we completed the deal." Madanchi is in Iran at present, but he will return before the team get together on July 20. arizvi@thenational.ae