x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Ahli deny Fabio Cannavaro has been released

The chief executive of Al Ahli insists the player is still part of the club — but with two new foreign signings already he or Pinga will have to leave under league rules.

Al Ahli have denied reports that Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 World Cup-winning Italian captain, has left the club.
Al Ahli have denied reports that Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 World Cup-winning Italian captain, has left the club.

DUBAI // Al Ahli have denied reports claiming Fabio Cannavaro has been released by the club and could be headed for England.

The British Sunday tabloid News of the World has linked Cannavaro with a move to promoted side Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League, claiming the Italian was released by Al Ahli on June 21.

But Ahmed Khalifa Hammad, the chief executive of Al Ahli, insists the 2006 World Cup-winning captain is still a part of the club.

"He has not been released, nothing of this kind has happened," Khalifa said. "He is on holiday and we will discuss once he comes back. Everyday I am hearing new stories and I don't know from where these people get their information."

Speculations, however, continue over Cannavaro's future in the Pro League after Al Ahli announced their second signing for the new season.

Khalifa has just returned from England, where he agreed a three-year deal for Jakson Avelino Coelho "Jaja", the 25-year-old Brazilian striker.

Last week, the club announced a two-year deal for Grafite, another Brazilian striker, who moves from Germany side Wolfsburg.

Despite Khalifa's denials, Cannavaro's future is far from certain.

Under league rules, Pro League clubs can only have four foreign players on their roster, one whom has to be Asian.

The two new arrivals mean Ahli will have to release either Cannavaro, who still has a year on his contract, or their top-scorer from last season Pinga, to comply with the rules.

"We are looking for one more player now and he has to be Asian," confirmed Khalifa.

Al Shabab, meanwhile, are reportedly close to signing Azizbek Haydarov, the Uzbekistan international defensive midfielder, as their Asian player for the new season.

Haydarov, 25, currently plies his trade with Bunyodkor, Uzbek champions for the past three seasons.

The club have retained their three foreign players from the last season: Carlos Villanueva, Julio Cesar and Ciel.

arizvi@thenational.ae