x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Al Wasl remain mum on their new recruit

Al Wasl had approached a Brazilian forward but it now seems a 22-year-old Argentine striker is figuring prominently in their plans, writes John McAuley.

Kaio, centre, a Brazilian forward, joins Al Wasl from Yokama FC in Japan. Wasl are also interested in acquiring a 22-year-old striker from Argentina.
Kaio, centre, a Brazilian forward, joins Al Wasl from Yokama FC in Japan. Wasl are also interested in acquiring a 22-year-old striker from Argentina.

DUBAI // Al Wasl have again focused attention on South America in a bid to bolster their attack, with the club involved in negotiations with a promising, yet unidentified, Argentinian whom they believe will someday be plying his trade in a major European league.

The Zabeel Stadium side have already this summer recruited Kaio, the Brazilian striker, from FC Yokohama in the Japanese second division, but they feel their front line requires further reinforcement.

As Mariano Donda, the rehabilitated playmaker, and Milan Susak, the recently acquired defender, currently form part of their foreign ensemble, Wasl have one expatriate spot still to fill.

A club source confirmed earlier this week that a Brazilian forward has been approached, but it now seems another player is figuring prominently in their plans.

"There is a striker, a 'No 9', but we're also looking at somebody from Argentina, who too would adapt well to the team," said Hamad bin Lahej, the Wasl vice chairman. "He's age 22, but from the films we have seen he's a very good player.

"I don't think he would stay long with us because he's young, Argentinian, and with his skill he would go to Europe. He's a very talented player. Once he comes, you will see how good he is."

While Wasl are reluctant to reveal the player's identity, they expect to make an announcement regarding their final foreign addition within a week.

They did, however, concede nothing is concrete until a contract has been signed.

"There is no confidence in football because so much can happen," Bin Lahej said. "But we hope to do the deal."

The Wasl that embark on the rebranded Arabian Gulf League will be almost unrecognizable from the side that struggled to a ninth-place finish last season.

Aside from the new additions - Emiliano Alfaro, Jussie and Ahmed Ibrahim were not retained - the club have chosen Laurent Banide as the man to lead them into the 2013/14 campaign.

The former Al Dhafra coach excelled during six months from last January in the Western Region, guiding one of the top flight's smaller clubs to eighth.

"It's important the last player arrives quickly because he needs to work with the team, and get to know everybody," Banide said. "I hope we find a solution soon.

"I talk with the committee and they propose players, but we know it's not easy. Everybody is giving 100 per cent to find the player, so we have him by next week.

"We need a stronger striker and I hope to find a player who can lead the line. He needs a big presence and a big spirit.

"That's important."

Khalatbari training despite Iran's attempt to block transfer

Mohammed Reza Khalatbari, Ajman's Iran international, began training with the club on Monday despite Iran's football federation attempting to block all transfers to the Arabian Gulf League. Khalatbari joined Ajman from Sepahan earlier this summer despite the UAE top-flight's name change.

Aboutrika and Shikabala square off

Mohamed Aboutrika and Shikabala, formerly of Baniyas and Al Wasl, will lead Al Ahly and Zamalek, respectively, when the Egyptian rivals clash in a CAF Champions League match today. Because of political turmoil in Cairo, the match will be held 450km away at the Red Sea resort of El Gouna.

Trezeguet is a Newell's Old Boy

David Trezeguet, the former France international, who played briefly with Baniyas in 2011, has signed a one-year deal with the Argentine champions Newell's Old Boys, the club said. "I am coming to a team everyone admires," said Trezeguet, 35, adding he hopes he can live up to his nickname of "Trezegol".

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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