Al Jazira complete signing of Asian Champions League-winning forward Leonardo
Arabian Gulf League leaders Al Jazira have completed the signing of Leonardo, the Asian Champions League-winning forward from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
The Brazilian, 30, had agreed terms last week, but did not arrive in the UAE until early Wednesday morning. He was to be registered on Friday to then be available for Monday’s Arabian Gulf Cup semi-final against Al Ahli.
Having previously attracted interest from both Ahli and Al Ain, Leonardo chose to sign for Jazira, who currently head the UAE top flight at the halfway stage. He replaces in the squad compatriot Ailton Almeida, with the former Al Hilal forward deemed surplus to requirements despite joining from Saudi Arabian club in the summer transfer window.
Leonardo, meanwhile, was one of the standouts in this year’s Champions League, finding the net 10 times to finish as the tournament’s second top scorer. His two goals in the first leg of the final against Al Ain helped Jeonbuk lift the trophy for a second time, with the South Koreans eventually prevailing 3-2 on aggregate.
Able to play as a second striker or out wide, Leonardo scored 40 goals in 160 K-League Classic matches since his switch to Jeonbuk from Greek club AEK Athens in 2012. During his four years in South Korea, he won the K-League Classic title twice, in 2014 and 2015, and the Champions League.
Leonardo completes Jazira’s foreign quartet alongside Moroccan Mbark Boussoufa, South Korean Park Jong–woo and Brazilian Joao Carlos.
Jazira, UAE champions once previously, in the 2010/11 season, still have on the books striker Mirko Vucinic and attacking midfielder Angel Lafita. Playmaker Thiago Neves has agreed to return to Brazil with Cruzeiro.
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Updated: January 6, 2017 04:00 AM