x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Ain step up transfer effort with two foreign players still needed

Club's bid to recruit 'has not gone the way we would have liked' says chief executive.

Al Ain beat Getafe 2-1 in Madrid in the latest match of their training camp. Al Ain FC
Al Ain beat Getafe 2-1 in Madrid in the latest match of their training camp. Al Ain FC

AL AIN // The Pro League champions remain committed to fulfilling their foreign quota before the beginning of the season, although then concede they are disappointed the situation has not yet been resolved.

With less than three weeks before the campaign kicks off with their Super Cup match against Al Jazira, Al Ain are one of the few elite sides still searching for overseas additions.

Al Ain seek to replace two players integral to last season's title success, Yasser Al Qahtani, the Saudi striker, and Ignacio Scocco, the Argentine midfielder. Both players left the club this summer.

Michel Bastos, the Brazilian winger with the French side Lyon, and Park Chu-young, the South Korean forward at Arsenal in England, were identified as primary targets yet the club have failed to complete deals for either.

"We're still in the market for players but nothing has been confirmed yet," Carlo Nohra, Al Ain's chief executive, said. "People are on the case and a person flew out yesterday to try to clinch one of the possibilities."

Nohra could not reveal the names of potential signings, but added: "Unfortunately [our transfer activity] has not gone the way we would have liked.

"I have no idea why, but all the things are handled quite delicately and carefully by the chairman and a few members of the board."

Al Ain are keen to complement the foreign stars already in their squad - the Ghana international Asamoah Gyan and the Romanian midfielder Mirel Radoi - with players of similar quality.

Bastos, an €18 million (Dh83m) signing from Lille in 2009, meets that criteria and a source close to the player confirmed last night to The National that he still hopes the transfer will go through.

Bastos decided at the beginning of this month to join Al Ain despite attracting offers from Italy, Russia and Greece.

Last week the Garden City club agreed with Lyon, verbally at least, to a transfer fee between €7.5m and €8m.

Yet Al Ain appeared to have gone cold on the move, with Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyon president, claiming on Monday a number of English Premier League clubs "had awoken" to Bastos's availability.

A member of the Bastos camp, though, insists there is no concrete offer from England and said a switch to Al Ain has a "50/50" chance of being completed.

"We've been told the interest is still there, but that he was to wait and be patient for the club to resolve the transfer," the source said.

"For Al Ain it is not finished; not 'yes or no'. They are still trying to find a solution with money for the transfer fee, etc."

However, Bastos is growing tired of the protracted negotiations and Lyon must sell to balance the books at Stade de Gerland - opening the door for another club to strike. Interested parties in Russia and Turkey have until the close of their transfer window on September 6 to strike a deal.

UAE clubs can conclude transfers up until September 31, although Bastos, and Lyon, will not wait that long.

jmcauley@thenational.ae