x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Ain face fight to keep Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan

Qatar club are believed to have joined race to sign Ghana international who is yet to inform Pro League side of his plans for next season. Audio interviews

Asamoah Gyan, centre, has had plenty of success in his first season at Al Ain.
Asamoah Gyan, centre, has had plenty of success in his first season at Al Ain.

ABU DHABI // Al Ain must inform Sunderland by the end of next month if they intend to translate the loan deal for Asamoah Gyan into a permanent move.

Representatives of the Pro League leaders negotiated an option to buy the Ghana striker when finalising a season-long loan move with the Premier League club in September and both parties are keen to activate that clause.

Whether Al Ain enter negotiations with Sunderland over the size of the transfer fee will hinge on whether Gyan wants to extend his stay in the UAE.

"We must activate the purchase agreement [with Sunderland] by the end of April," Carlo Nohra, the Al Ain chief executive, said.

"Obviously we need to sit down with the player and work out his plans before then. The sooner he decides the better as all parties can then plan for the future and make alternative arrangements."

Gyan has appeared content with life in Al Ain. He is regularly spotted in Al Ain Mall wearing a kandura and demonstrated his commitment to the club last month by chartering a private plane to fly back from the African Cup of Nations so he could play in the club's game against Dubai. He has also scored 15 goals this season.

"We are delighted with his commitment and it is clear what the club means to him and he understands the role he plays in the team," Nohra said. "The loyalty of players in the game has been questioned recently but you cannot question his loyalty."

However, when weighing up the likelihood of Gyan remaining for a second season, Nohra will be mindful of the comments made by Steve Bruce, the then Sunderland manager, who felt the "parasites" surrounding Gyan played a significant factor in Gyan engineering a move away from the Stadium of Light last year. "Five of them ... visited him in his hotel room, threatening him and the rest of it," Bruce said in September.

"We are keen to make the deal permanent but when a player performs as well as he [Gyan] has, then he becomes hot property," Nohra said. "It will be up to the player if he remains in the UAE or goes back to the UK. Sunderland seem happy to do a deal and are happy to sell him."

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Reports emerged today that a Qatari club have joined the race to sign Gyan. Ironically, Al Ain moved for Gyan last year after Mamadou Niag, one of the strikers on their short list, moved to Al Sadd in Qatar after Al Ain baulked at the wage demands and transfer free for the Senegalese striker.

Nohra says he "knows what it would take [in terms of salary package] to keep him" while the transfer fee Sunderland are likely to demand, for a player who has two years left to run on his contract and cost the Premier League club €13.2 million (Dhs63.98m) two years ago, should eclipse the Pro League record of €14m Al Jazira paid for Ricardo Oliviera 2009. Reports suggest the season-long loan deal for Gyan, when you combine is salary and the loan fee, is as high as €9m.

Nohra declined to comment on Gyan's salary and the size of the loan fee on the grounds of confidentially. As a loan payment was made, Al Ain have to comply with Fifa regulations surrounding solidarity payments on international transfers and ensure five per cent is distributed to the professional clubs Gyan, 26, played for before he was 23.

kaffleck@thenational.ae