x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Ahli's Luis Jimenez says he needed a fresh challenge

The Chile international added that Fabio Cannavaro's presence as the club's ambassador gave him the confidence to move to the Dubai team.

Luis Jimenez, in red playing for Chile, agreed a four-year deal to join Al Ahli in June.
Luis Jimenez, in red playing for Chile, agreed a four-year deal to join Al Ahli in June.

DUBAI // Fabio Cannavaro's presence at Al Ahli and the club's plans for the new season were the primary reasons for Luis Jimenez to leave European football to come and play in the UAE.

Jimenez, an attacking midfielder, has spent the past nine seasons playing for Italian clubs such as Inter Milan, Parma, Lazio and Ternana, but agreed a four-year deal with Ahli in June.

The 27 year old then joined the Chile squad for the Copa America tournament in Argentina before meeting up with his new teammates in pre-season training a week ago.

Jiminez was officially unveiled by the club yesterday at the Armani Hotel in Dubai.

"This is a great challenge for me after playing in Europe for many years," Jimenez said. "I thought about this change really thoroughly, but Al Ahli are a winning club with a good history. Their project caught my attention.

"With the new signings this year, both the foreign and local, I know they want to win and compete with the top teams. Also the fact that Fabio is the ambassador of the club gave me the confidence to come here.

"The fact that Fabio is still here in the UAE, it gives an extra value to the league.

"I needed a change, a new challenge. I had this opportunity and I took it.

"I wanted to come to a club who want to be champions and with every passing day, I am more happy with my decision."

Jimenez also conferred with his international teammate Jorge Valdivia, the former Al Ain captain, before committing himself to Ahli.

Valdivia was one of the biggest stars of the league, but he returned to the Brazilian club Palmeiras in 2010 after two seasons with Al Ain.

"I spoke to Valdivia and he said Al Ahli are a good club," Jimenez said, brushing aside concerns that this move could be bad for his international career.

"I don't think it will affect negatively. It has been four years since I was called to the national team, but I was called up for the recent Copa America.

"I have spoken to the coach and he said, for him, it doesn't change anything with me coming to the UAE, as long as I play well."

Alongside Jimenez, Ahli also unveiled Amir Mubarak, their new Emirati signing from Al Nasr.

Mubarak, who has done well in recent matches for the national side, is hoping the move will help him become a better player.

"It is better to keep changing from one place to another," Mubarak said. "You meet new people and new challenges. Al Ahli are one of the biggest clubs in the UAE.

"They have a lot of fans, all good people, and I hope this year will be a successful one for me and Al Ahli club."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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