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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Al Jazira sign former Anderlecht star, Chelsea youth Mbark Boussoufa from Russia

John McAuley reports Al Jazira have completed the signing of Morocco international Mbark Boussoufa from Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow.
Mbark Boussoufa. Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP Photo
Mbark Boussoufa. Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP Photo

Al Jazira have made their first foreign signing of the summer with the capture of Moroccan Mbark Boussoufa from Lokomotiv Moscow.

A two-year deal for the attacking midfielder, 31, was completed late Wednesday, with the player joining up with the team’s training camp in the Netherlands. Jazira are expected to employ Boussoufa as their No 10 for next season’s Arabian Gulf League – he can play wide left, too – meaning he should take the place in the squad of Brazilian Thiago Neves.

Born in Amsterdam, Boussoufa began his senior career in 2004 with Belgian side Gent. He rose to prominence in the 2005/06 season and was voted Belgian footballer of the year, an award he collected twice more during his five years at Anderlecht from 2006.

Boussoufa twice played an integral role in helping the club lift the Belgian top-tier title, with 14 goals and 20 assists in the 2009/10 campaign the standout. His form piqued interest from Russia, with Boussoufa transferring to Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011.

After 13 goals in 87 appearances, he then moved to Lokomotiv in 2013, but struggled for regular football. In February this year, he returned to Gent on loan.

Capped 40 times for the Morocco national team and a former member of the Ajax and Chelsea youth academies, Boussoufa is expected to be the first of at least three new foreign recruits at Jazira. The Abu Dhabi club, who finished a disappointing seventh in last season’s AGL, currently have on their books Mirko Vucinic, Park Jong-woo, Jefferson Farfan, Angel Lafita and Thiago Neves, although Vucinic or Farfan may be the only players retained.

Jazira have bid for Cheick Tiote at Newcastle United, with a decision on whether to push through the deal to come later Thursday. The Ivorian midfielder featured 138 times in the Premier League in six seasons and is keen on a switch to the UAE.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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