x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Al Shabab tie Azizbek Haydarov to new contract

Pro League round-up: The Uzbek pens a new three-year deal with the Dubai club, while Al Wasl deny rumours linking them with Egyptian midfielder Shikabala.

Azizbek Haydarov, right, the Al Shabab midfielder, has been one of the most productive foreign signings in the Pro League this season and has penned a new three-year deal with the club. Karim Sahib / AFP
Azizbek Haydarov, right, the Al Shabab midfielder, has been one of the most productive foreign signings in the Pro League this season and has penned a new three-year deal with the club. Karim Sahib / AFP

DUBAI //Azizbek Haydarov has signed a new three-year deal with Al Shabab, ending weeks of speculation over his future at the club.

The Uzbek international, who was one of the league's most impressive foreign players in his first season here, was offered an extension more than a month ago, but the talks stalled over the exaggerated financial demands by the player's agent.

Haydarov had reportedly attracted a few lucrative offers, from both within the country and outside, and was asking US$2 million (Dh7.34m) a year to stay on at Shabab, but the club rejected those demands and team manager, Obaid Al Hubaitha, even released a statement saying the Dubai club were looking for a replacement.

However, the Shabab coach, Paulo Bonamigo, and club management have managed to convince Haydarov to agree to a new deal, which fits into the club's budget.

"I did have offers from some local and Russian clubs, but I have decided to stay at Shabab because I feel comfortable here," Haydarov said after agreeing to the deal.

"There is a great family atmosphere within the team and I am keen to continue my career here and help the club achieve more success in the coming seasons, both locally and in Asia."

Haydarov has missed several matches in the last couple of months due to injury, but Bonamigo expects his midfielder to be at his best when pre-season training starts.

The coach, however, will be looking for a replacement for Carlos Villanueva, who is expected to be out of action until October or November.

Villanueva injured his cruciate ligament during the Pro League match against Al Wasl in March and the Chilean playmaker underwent surgery yesterday at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar.

"We have been feeling the absence of Carlos because he has contributed a great deal to the team," Bonamigo said.

"So we will have to find a replacement for the time Carlos is going to be absent."

Despite the absence of their key players, Shabab have managed to hold on to their place among the top three in the Pro League and will meet Al Ahli in the Etisalat Cup final tomorrow.

In the final round of the league next Sunday, Bonamigo's men will face Al Nasr to decide the league's runners-up behind Al Ain.

Nasr, who will finish in the top three for the second successive season under Italian head coach Walter Zenga, have also started negotiations with players whose contract will be up for renewal at the end of the season.

The club are keen to keep the core of their team together and hope to convince Amara Diane to stay on for a second season. The Ivory Coast striker has shown good form recently, scoring eight goals in UAE competitions and five in Asia.

Diane has become a favourite of the Nasr fans and, in a recent pool on Twitter, 90 per cent said they wanted him to stay at the club next season.

The club are also in talks with Al Jazira for their defender Ali Al Ameri, who has emerged as a key element of Zenga's side since his loan move in January.

Al Wasl, meanwhile, have denied media reports claiming the club are negotiating with unsettled Egyptian playmaker Mahmoud "Shikabala" Abdul Razek of Zamalek.

"Shikabala is an outstanding player and any club would love to sign him," a club spokesman said.

"But there is no truth to these rumours. There have been no negotiations between Wasl and Zamalek for the player."

Shikabala's relationship with his Zamalek coach, Hassan Shehata, appears beyond repair following a touchline altercation after being substituted in an African Champions League match last week.

The attacking midfielder was replaced in the 66th minute of the game against Morocco's Maghreb Fez, which prompted an angry response from the player, who screamed at his coach as he left the pitch: "Why every time it's me? If you're not going to play me, then let me go. I'm fed up with you!"

A few hours after the game, Zamalek announced they were inviting offers for the player and he has since been linked with several clubs in this region, including Wasl and Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia.

The player was later fined for the incident, excluded from the club's trip to Saudi Arabia for a friendly last Monday, and was also dropped from the national team as well.




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