x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Kamali in talks with Lyon

No agreement says defender but Al Wahda open to an offer if it benefits Olympic team captain.

Al Wahda’s Hamdan Al Kamali, left, had previously received an offer from Lyon in the summer.
Al Wahda’s Hamdan Al Kamali, left, had previously received an offer from Lyon in the summer.

ABU DHABI // Hamdan Al Kamali has made no secret about his ambition to play in Europe. Though the opportunity has arrived, a decision will be made only after the capital city's derby between his club Al Wahda and Al Jazira on Thursday.

Al Kamali, the senior national team central defender and the Olympic team captain, has been in talks with Lyon, the top-flight French club, for a move during the January transfer window.

"We have been talking but not reached an agreement yet," Al Kamali said after last night's training.

"For now, I am only focused on the important game against Jazira. So anything that may be discussed further on the negotiations or reaching an agreement will be after this match."

Lyon had tried to secure Al Kamali's signature during the summer but the bid was rejected by his club as "not a serious offer".

The 22-year-old Emirati has a contract with Wahda up to June 2014. And Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive of the club, said the Lyon offer should benefit the player.

"There is no problem in releasing the player if he benefits from his time in Europe," he said. "Hamdan is valuable to us as well as the national team, and we must look after his welfare."

If Al Kamali decides to move to Lyon, he would become the first Emirati to play for a major European side.

Al Kamali is considered one of the best young talents in Asia. He had previously stated his ambitions to play in Europe, hoping to set an example for young Emirati players to follow suit.

"I want to improve my own game and be known outside the country," Al Kamali said. "If I get a decent offer to play in Europe, I will speak to the chairman of the club directly."

Ismail Matar, the UAE international forward and a Wahda teammate, supports Al Kamali's ambitions. "If Hamdan gets an opportunity to play in Europe then he should be allowed to go," said Matar. "There are many young players with the same ambitions to play abroad. They would benefit from the exposure and the national team will also profit."

Remi Garde, the Lyon coach who took charge last summer, is keen to sign Al Kamali. Initially, Lyon wanted to sign him on loan but they are now willing to sign him permanently after the Pro League club made clear their intentions.

Al Kamali has a powerful shot and also is strong in the air, particularly in the set pieces. He also has been an inspirational leader, helping UAE age-group teams to a first Asia Cup Under 19 championship, the quarter-finals of the U20 World Cup and the U23 Asian Games final.

apassela@thenational.ae

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