x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Al Nasr on the cusp of signing Ibrahima Toure

Club in talks with Senegalese striker and they will also announce their fourth international player soon, reports John McAuley.

Al Nasr are in advanced negotiations with Monaco forward Ibrahima Toure, left, who also played with Ajman two years ago. Valery Hache / AFP
Al Nasr are in advanced negotiations with Monaco forward Ibrahima Toure, left, who also played with Ajman two years ago. Valery Hache / AFP

DUBAI // Al Nasr's protracted pursuit of their final two foreign signings is almost at its end after the club said they expect to make a double announcement in the next 48 hours.

The Arabian Gulf League side have spent the past month searching for players to complement those already in the squad, with Leonardo Lima and Brett Holman the only expatriates certain to begin the 2013/14 season. Bruno Correa, the Brazilian striker, is still training with Nasr, however, he is permitted to leave should a satisfactory offer be made.

While the identity of one of the potential recruits remains unconfirmed, Nasr are optimistic they will conclude a deal for long-term target Ibrahima Toure. The Senegalese striker is out of favour at Monaco, the big-spending French side, and had been approached earlier this summer regarding a move to Nasr.

It was suggested that Toure preferred to remain in France, although Nasr were this past week again alerted to his availability and have sent club officials to Monaco to push through the transfer.

"It's true, we're in advanced negotiations with Toure and we hope to close the deal in the coming two days," said a Nasr source.

"I can't say what happened in the negotiations that made the player change his mind, but right now we're confident the deal is almost there."

Toure would represent an astute signing, given his recent role in Monaco's return to Ligue 1. The forward scored 18 goals in 35 matches last season to help gain promotion, taking his total tally for the club to 28 goals in 52 league matches.

Toure, 27, also has experience of UAE football, having enjoyed a prolific spell with Ajman in 2011. In all, he scored 14 times in 16 games, including seven in the Etisalat Cup alone.

"He's an excellent striker and is what we've been searching for," said the Nasr official. "Toure knows well the league from his time at Ajman, where he was a big success. It convinced Monaco to make him an offer and then he was top scorer for them last season. He's a top-class striker."

Nasr anticipate a fourth foreign player for next season will soon join Toure at their training camp in Germany. Peter Odemwingie, the striker at England's West Bromich Albion, remains the most likely acquisition, as Nasr recently returned to the Premier League club with an increased bid. Last month, they had an £850,000 (Dh4.8 million) rejected.

Odemwingie, 32, is thought to be assessing options to remain in the English top flight, yet Nasr believe they can persuade the Nigerian to continue his career in the UAE.

"Let's first close the deal with Toure – he still has not signed the contract – and then we'll tell you about the other signing," the Nasr source said. "We'll announce both names together. Again, we're very close to that one. We had more than one option and we hope to finalise the deal very soon."

When asked if that player was Odemwingie, the official replied: "Everyone on our list is under our consideration."

That Nasr are close to completing their squad for next term will please Ivan Jovanovic, the new coach, who wanted to have all business done before his squad travelled to Munich. Nasr begin their Arabian Gulf League campaign away to Al Wahda on September 14.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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