x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Path is cleared for Carlos Munoz to join Baniyas

Financial issues have been resolved for Chilean striker to leave Colo-Colo and sign up with Baniyas, writes John McAuley.

Chilean striker Carlos Munoz is set to leave Colo-Colo and join Baniyas. Mario Ruiz / EPA
Chilean striker Carlos Munoz is set to leave Colo-Colo and join Baniyas. Mario Ruiz / EPA

Baniyas expect to conclude the transfer of Carlos Munoz, the Chilean striker, within 24 hours.

The Abu Dhabi club have been in negotiations with the Colo-Colo forward since early last month, and were confident of securing an arrangement to take him to the UAE capital on a three-year deal.

However, Colo-Colo reportedly increased their asking price from US$4 million (Dh14.7m) to $5m, prompting Baniyas to pursue other options. Mauro Formica, the Argentine currently at England's Blackburn Rovers, was set to join last month, only for Baniyas to decide against completing the signing because of concerns regarding the player's fitness.

They refocused their attention on recruiting Munoz, 24, although it remains unclear if the club's board agreed to meet Colo-Colo's revised valuation. The complication is believed to have arisen from a clause in Munoz's contract that stipulates his previous club, Santiago Wanderers, receive 50 per cent of any sell-on fee.

Baniyas, though, say such issues have been resolved.

"Munoz will arrive here in the next 24 hours, where he'll meet the management and complete the contract," said Khaled Al Junaibi, the club spokesman. "We're confident everything will be fine."

Munoz boasts a fine record in Chile, having scored 60 goals in 123 league matches. He has eight caps for the Chilean national team.

Although his acquisition will raise Baniyas's foreign contingent to the allocated four – Andre Senghor, Christian Wilhelmsson and Abdulsalam Al Mukhaini are their other expatriates – Al Junaibi confirmed the club are interested in Manuel Lanzini, the Argentine playmaker currently at River Plate.

Lanzini, who spent the 2011/12 season on loan to Brazil's Fluminense, became a regular for the Argentine giants last season. Renowned for his dribbling ability, at age 20, his acquisition would underline Baniyas's recent emphasis on long-term investment. Reports in Argentina set Lanzini's price at $5.6m. The attacking midfielder will be familiar to the Uruguayan Jorge da Silva, the newly appointed Baniyas coach, who has managed in Argentina with Godoy Cruz and Banfield.

"Until now, there is nothing official," Al Junaibi said. "We have already contacted the player, but the management have not yet decided if he will come. If he does arrive, his place in the squad will be in exchange for either Senghor or Wilhelmsson."

Senghor seems the most likely to make way, even though he was the club's top scorer last season with 17 goals in 27 domestic matches. The Senegalese striker's contract, extended last summer, expires at the end of the 2013/14 campaign. He has recently been linked to various clubs in Qatar.

Meanwhile, Baniyas have denied they want to sign Faisal Khalil, the former UAE international.

The Al Wasl frontman was loaned to Al Shaab in January but has since returned to the Zabeel Stadium.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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