x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Luis Farina is a surprise addition for Baniyas

Argentine will be introduced Sunday but club now has five foreign players for four allocated spots, writes John McAuley.

Baniyas will officially present new signing Luis Farina at a news conference Sunday after the Argentine agreed to a one-year loan agreement with the Abu Dhabi club.

Despite being linked with a transfer to the UAE earlier this summer, Farina's acquisition comes as a surprise given he joined Benfica, the Portuguese side, from Racing Club only two weeks ago.

However, Baniyas have managed to secure the playmaker, 22, for the 2013/14 Arabian Gulf League season, meaning they will either release Andre Senghor or Christian Wilhelmsson. With the addition of Farina, the club currently have five foreign players for four allocated spots.

Carlos Munoz, the Chilean striker, was recruited last month from Colo-Colo, while Abdulsalam Al Mukhaini, the Omani defender, qualifies as their Asian representative.

Although a Baniyas official would not confirm which expatriate will be allowed to leave, the Senegalese striker Senghor seems the most likely even though he was their top scorer last season with 17 goals in 27 domestic matches. He has been linked with a move to Qatar, and his fate, or that of Wilhelmsson's, will be revealed at the media briefing Sunday.

Farina, though, promises to be an exciting addition, given his attributes as a fast, tricky offensive midfielder who can both create and score goals. In his final campaign with Racing, Farina notched four goals in 16 appearances to help his team finish fifth in the Argentine Primera Division.

Baniyas will hope he can reproduce his recent fine form as they seek to improve on an impressive 2012/13 season. They eventually finished fourth in the Pro League, having at one stage risen as high as second, and in May collected only their second piece of silverware by securing the Gulf Clubs Championship.

Jorge da Silva, the experienced Uruguayan, was installed in June as their new manager.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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