Claims that his contract his not binding with the Pro League club has no validity, the club says, while they wait to discover if Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan will join them.
Diego Maradona deal with Al Wasl is '100 per cent' valid
DUBAI // Claims that Diego Maradona’s contract with Al Wasl is not binding because an agent for the former coach of Argentina was not involved in the negotiations have no validity, the club said yesterday.
And the ambitious Dubai club hope to discover before Saturday’s home match against Dubai whether Diego Forlan, the Uruguay and Atletico Madrid striker, will join them on a season-loan for the next Pro League campaign.
The agent, Riadh Hasnaoui, has insisted he has exclusive rights to any deal involving Maradona and, therefore, the two-year agreement to coach Wasl beginning next season is invalid as Hasnaoui had not been part of the discussion.
“There is nothing wrong with the contact,” Ahmed Khalifa, Wasl’s club media manager, said.
“I have been told that the agent who has made these claims stopped working with Diego long before we spoke to him about coming to the club, so he has nothing to do with this.
“I saw Diego interviewed on South American television and he confirmed 100 per cent that everything was fine. We are just waiting for him to get to Dubai and then the work can begin.”
Maradona, who reached an agreement with Wasl last week, is expected to return to Dubai next month to meet with club officials and discuss potential new signings, assess the current squad, make pre-season arrangements and decide on his backroom coaching staff.
If the signing of Maradona was astonishing, Wasl would earn even more international attention if they could prise Forlan away from Spanish football. He has twice won the European Golden Boot and was named best player at World Cup last year.
The 31-year-old forward, who won the Premier League and FA Cup with Manchester United, has been one of European football’s most prolific scorers for the past three seasons. He has netted 95 goals in 195 games for his current side, whom he joined in 2007 from Villarreal for €21 million (Dh109m).
It was thought if Forlan left Madrid this summer, he would move to another big club in Spain. A return to England was also mooted, with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur mentioned as possible destinations.
If a deal does materialise, Wasl will have to dig deep into the club’s coffers to fund the deal. In January Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, expressed an interest in Forlan, but baulked at the South American’s wages.
“Diego Forlan has been mentioned but we are not going to get near their wages,” said Redknapp at the time.
“They are on £100,000 (Dh594,295) plus a week – they are not going to come here.”
Khalifa, however, said yesterday the club are confident of acquiring his services.
“We have offered Forlan a one-year loan deal and he has accepted. He wants to join Al Wasl,” Khalifa said. “We are now waiting for Atletico to come back to us. We sent them a proposal on Monday and I would expect to get an answer over the next few days.
“Will more big names be signed? Maybe, we shall see. Forlan was the best player at the last World Cup, so this would be a fantastic signing for us.”
When Maradona returns next month, one of his first priorities will be to assemble his coaching staff.
“We do not have an exact date, but Diego will be here in June when he will talk about the football side of things with the club,” Khalifa said. “We will also introduce him to the media and supporters.
“We have held some discussions with Diego about pre-season and other football matters and everything will be sorted out in a few weeks when he returns to the country. Then he will start his job as coach near the end of July.
“There are still some things to work out, such as who his assistant will be, so it’s going to be important that we meet him before he actually starts the job in pre-season.”
Khalifa said the club has been pleased with the attention they have received since announcing the Maradona deal last week.
“It has been an incredible time for the club since the news broke. We have all been incredibly busy,” he said. “Al Wasl is now known around the world and that is fantastic. There has been a website set up by Argentine football fans called Argentina Al Wasl, so we have a lot of new supporters now.”