x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Wasl ready to sign Turkish defender Yalcin Ayhan

Kasimpasa star could be first Turk to play in UAE's top flight; Baniyas reported to be interested in Argentina international; and Al Ahli say Viana going nowhere. Ahmed Rizvi reports.

Yalcin Ayhan, left, who plays for the Turkish club Kasimpasa, is likely to move to Al Wasl in the January transfer window. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images
Yalcin Ayhan, left, who plays for the Turkish club Kasimpasa, is likely to move to Al Wasl in the January transfer window. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images

DUBAI // Yalcin Ayhan is set to become the first Turkish football player to play in the UAE top flight after agreeing to a deal with Al Wasl.

The 31-year-old defender is captain of the Turkish club Kasimpasa, who are third in the Super Lig behind Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, and will be arriving at the Dubai club in the new year on an 18-month deal to replace the Moroccan defender Abdelfettah Boukhriss, who will return to FUS de Rabat on a free transfer.

“We have signed on the player on the recommendations of the coach Hector Cuper, and there are many more surprises in the coming period,” said Abdullah Hareb, chairman of Wasl’s board of directors.

Wasl are seventh in the Arabian Gulf League table with 17 points from 12 matches and could change all four of their foreign players in the January transfer window. Mariano Donda, who has been the club’s mainstay since his 2011 arrival, reportedly is considering offers from clubs in Saudi Arabia after failing to become an automatic choice in Cuper’s plans for the team.

The Australian defender Milan Susak and Senegalese striker Andre Senghor have also been far from convincing. Pablo Batalla, an Argentine playmaker currently plying his trade at the Turkish club Buraspor, and the Brazilian striker Victor Simoes of Saudi club Al Ahli are two names mentioned as possible replacements.

Media reports have also linked the Moroccan defensive midfielder Adil Hermach, who is playing for Toulouse in France, with a move to Wasl.

“We are definitely looking to strengthen the team in the January transfer window and Yalcin Ayhan is the first of the changes,” said Mohammed Al Ameri, a Wasl board member. “There are a few surprises that we will announce, but after our next match with Al Ain, which brings the first half of the league to an end. The picture will be much clearer after that.

“We have heard about this deal with Hermach, just as we have heard about the departure of Donda from the ranks of Wasl, but we have not received any official offer for the player.”

Baniyas, who have managed only two points in their past four games, will also be looking to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window. Reports in Argentina have linked the club with a move for the defensive midfielder Sebastian Prediger.

Prediger, 27, who has one cap for the Argentina national team, is playing for Colon in the Argentina Primera Division, and Baniyas are competing with the likes of Estudiantes and the Mexican club Atlante for his services.

If the deal for Prediger goes through, the Brazilian Marcelinho could be the player being replaced.

Al Ahli, the league leaders, say they have no plans to move the Portuguese playmaker Hugo Viana.

“The team is doing well and we have no intention of dispensing with the services of Viana,” Abdullah Al Naboodah, chairman of the club’s board of directors, said in a TV interview. “We consider him a very important member of the team.”

Al Dhafra, meanwhile, are looking at South American options to replace Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Clottey.

arizvi@thenational.ae