x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Michel Bastos aims to complete move to Al Ain soon

Lyon's Michel Bastos has his heart set on a move to Al Ain and hopes to complete the transfer sometime this week, writes John McAuley.

Michel Bastos is trying to work out a move to Al Ain through his present club Lyon, who is in talks with Bundesilga side Schalke to make the Brazilian's current loan deal permanent.
Michel Bastos is trying to work out a move to Al Ain through his present club Lyon, who is in talks with Bundesilga side Schalke to make the Brazilian's current loan deal permanent.

Lyon's Michel Bastos has his heart set on a move to Al Ain and hopes to complete the transfer to the UAE champions sometime this week.

The Brazilian midfielder has accepted in principle a three-year contract with the Garden City club, however a problem exists regarding his current loan agreement with Schalke, the Bundesliga side.

Bastos has spent the past six months with the Germans where, under the terms of the arrangement, they have first option to sign him permanently for a fee of €4 million (Dh19.5m) should another club match that valuation.

Al Ain, who almost signed Bastos, 29, last summer, have met Lyon's asking price, although they must wait until Wednesday to see if their attempt proves successful.

Lyon have set that deadline for Schalke to propose a permanent deal.

Given the logistics of placing such a bid, Bastos's representatives believe that Schalke will have to make their offer by Monday at the latest.

The player has identified Al Ain as his first-choice destination, even though Al Ahli, their Arabian Gulf League rivals, had also expressed an interest.

"Michel has already decided he wants to go to Al Ain," said Bastos's agent, Emmanuel de Kerchove. "In the player's mind, it's all clear. I spoke with him one hour ago and he said he wants to go to Al Ain. But because Schalke have priority; it's a condition of the contract.

"We understand the difficulty in replacing a player like Michel, but he needs to think about himself and his career. The concrete offer he has now is for three years with Al Ain.

"A lot of Brazilians play in the UAE and he knows the way of life and the quality of the sporting project there. At this moment we have to wait, but I hope [by Monday] the matter will be resolved."

Schalke want to retain Bastos as they realise the difficulty in finding a left-sided player of similar quality before their season begins in earnest on August 9. However, they have decided to wait until the end of his loan period to come forward with a proposal and the procrastination has allowed Al Ain to make a move.

Bastos had agreed to join the UAE club last August, but the deal never materialised because Lyon wrangled over the fee. The French side initially wanted €10m, with Al Ain prepared to offer €6m rising to €9m.

In the end, Al Ain opted for Jires Kembo Ekoko, the Frenchman who is expected to make available his position in the squad should the Bastos transfer go through. Al Ain currently have the allocated four foreign players on their roster, yet they expect to hold onto Asamoah Gyan, Alex Brosque and Mirel Radoi.

De Kerchove, meanwhile, says last year's frustrations have not affected Bastos’s desire to come to the Emirates.

"At the beginning he said the door was closed, but we explained what happened, as did Al Ain," he said. "Michel knows football is like this. Al Ain made two concrete offers and Lyon refused.

"But after some time he discussed it with his wife and they realised the move to the UAE is good for his family also. For this he decided to accept Al Ain's offer."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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