x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Asamoah Gyan deal 'is a declaration of Al Ain's intent'

Carlo Nohra, the Al Ain football club's chief executive, says the Ghana international's decision to stay will attract more big names to Pro League.

Asamoah Gyan, who scored 22 goals for Al Ain last season, has signed a four-year contract. Mike Young / The National
Asamoah Gyan, who scored 22 goals for Al Ain last season, has signed a four-year contract. Mike Young / The National

DUBAI // The permanent transfer of Asamoah Gyan to Al Ain represents a landmark in UAE football, according to the club's chief executive.

The Ghana international, whose 22 goals during a loan spell last season fired Al Ain to the Pro League title, signed a four-year contract with the champions on Friday after the club activated a clause in the agreement that allowed them first refusal on the 26 year old.

While Carlo Nohra would not disclose details of the permanent deal, Gyan was paid €3 million (Dh13.5m) for his loan spell at Al Ain last season while Sunderland received a £6m (Dh34,135m) loan fee.

Nohra said Al Ain were made aware that Gyan had attracted interest from other clubs, including Qatar, but was always confident the striker would remain at Al Ain.

"It's definitely a landmark event," Nohra said. "Asamoah will be instrumental in attracting other players to the UAE because he has proven that if you are of his calibre you can come to the Emirates, join a very big club and as a football player be satisfied besides being satisfied as a human being.

"It proves that if you are in your prime you can still come here, make a very good living, enjoy yourself in a beautiful country but, most importantly for a footballer, play football to a very high standard.

"And it speaks a lot for the club and the values we have. Hopefully he'll be a shining example for other players to consider coming here."

Nohra revealed the club have identified transfer targets after being frustrated in their attempts to retain the services of Yasser Al Qahtani and Ignacio Scocco.

Qahtani, who last season formed a potent partnership with Gyan, has returned to Saudi side Al Hilal following the termination of his loan agreement.

Al Ain made an offer to either extend that arrangement or take Qahtani permanently, yet their Riyadh counterparts have refused to negotiate. Attacking midfielder Scocco has returned to Argentina for personal reasons. He was paid €2m last season.

Al Ain have, however, signed Mohammed Ahmed, the UAE Olympic side's central defender, from Al Shabab and compatriot Yaqoub Al Hosani from Al Wahda. Nohra expects more to follow.

"We're certainly working on bolstering the squad. That's a given, although I'm not sure about the timeline," he said. "There could be announcements at any time, but I know we're definitely looking to replace Scocco and possibly Yasser.

"We were hoping to keep both because the squad performed so well last season that we wanted to retain the consistency. Unfortunately, Scocco needed to head back to Argentina and we couldn't come to terms with Al Hilal for Yasser, but this is football, things can change pretty quickly.

"We'll be going into the new season aiming to strengthen the squad, not to rebuild, so it isn't about wholesale changes. It is purely about looking what we could do with to add a bit more strength in depth."

Al Ain step up preparations for the new season when they travel to Austria today for a pre-Ramadan training camp. Nohra said the get-together is the perfect prelude to what is sure to be a demanding campaign, where the club look not only to defend their Pro League crown but also to win the Asian Champions League for the first time since 2003.

"We'd fallen on hard times a little since then so it's critical we reposition the club back where it belongs - as the biggest in Asia," Nohra said. "We've taken one major step along the way but we haven't reached that pinnacle yet.

"So our performances in the AFC Champions League will be instrumental in demonstrating to Asia and the rest of the world that we are awakened again. And the permanent signing of Asamoah is a declaration of our intent."

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