x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Al Jazira's Valdez eyes Asian Champions League

After leaving Spanish Primera Liga, the Paraguayan will join fellow South American Ricardo Oliveira up front for Al Jazira, writes John McAuley.

Nelson Valdez boats an CV having played in the Europa League and for top teams in the Bundesliga. Christof Stache / AFP
Nelson Valdez boats an CV having played in the Europa League and for top teams in the Bundesliga. Christof Stache / AFP

Nelson Valdez has set his sights on lifting the Asian Champions League crown with Al Jazira after the forward sealed his transfer to the capital club late last week.

The Paraguayan joined the 2011 UAE champions from Valencia, the Spanish Primera Liga side, for a fee thought to be around €3 million (Dh14.5m) and is expected to form a successful strike partnership with Ricardo Oliveira, his fellow South American.

Valdez, 29, will bring a wealth of experience to Jazira, having previously represented high-profile German clubs in Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund, while during his season at Russia's Ruben Kazan in 2011/12, he also played in the Europa League.

His CV already includes a Bundesliga title and a collection of other trinkets, something Valdez intends to embellish at the Maktoum bin Zayed Stadium.

"I dream of winning trophies, including the Asian Champions League, which I'd put as top priority," Valdez said in an interview with Al Ittihad.

"A club that plays in the Champions League, and has the potential and facilities that Jazira has, must always try to be at the heart of the competition.

"The local tournaments are very important, too, because it brings happiness to the supporters and gives personal satisfaction."

Jazira concluded last season as the top flight's third-best team, and have spent liberally this summer to ensure they challenge at the summit of the rebranded Arabian Gulf League.

Valdez joins a raft of new recruits including Abdelaziz Barrada, the promising midfielder from Spain's Getafe, and Al Ain duo Yaqoub Al Hosani and Musallam Fayez. Farid Esmail and Khalfan Mubarak are other recent additions.

Valdez, though, revealed he was convinced to come to the Emirates by Luis Milla, the Jazira manager, who had met the player twice in Valencia to discuss the transfer.

In choosing Jazira, the striker rejected offers from Germany, England, Turkey, Russia and America, citing Jazira's desire to hire him as the main reason for signing. "Playing for Jazira is a great challenge for me because I know the management have signed me to accomplish great things, and I'll do everything I can to achieve those targets," Valdez said.

"But I certainly can't do it alone. Football is a team game and if you don't receive help from others, you'll not have a significant impact.

"However, I'm not intimidated by the new experience, because I've played in the top leagues in the world and I feel confident in the possibilities that I've found in the club and through the words of the coach. I am confident I can be worthy of the trust."

Valdez, capped 66 times by Paraguay, returned to Valencia after signing his two-year contract, although he will be back in Abu Dhabi tonightwhen Jazira hold a news conference to present their latest additions.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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