Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Al Ain's busy summer continues with signings of Abderrahmane Meziane and Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba

The forward, 25, joins the 13-time UAE champions from USM Alger in his homeland

Abderrahmane Meziane has signed with Al Ain on a four-year contract from USM Alger. Courtesy Al Ain FC Twitter
Abderrahmane Meziane has signed with Al Ain on a four-year contract from USM Alger. Courtesy Al Ain FC Twitter

Al Ain’s productive summer continued on Thursday when the club announced the double signing of Algerian striker Abderrahmane Meziane and Togo international forward Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba.

Meziane, 25, joins the 13-time UAE champions on a four-year deal from USM Alger in his homeland, where last season he scored seven goals in 24 league appearances to fire his side to the domestic title.

Kodjo, meanwhile, arrives on a free transfer having last season finished top scorer in the CAF Confederation Cup with eight goals. The 27-year-old's haul helped carry Morocco’s RS Berkane to a runner-up spot. He has signed a contract until 2022.

The twin acquisition takes Al Ain’s summer spree to six major signings since they finished a disappointing fourth in the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League.

The outlay includes Croatian Ivan Leko, who has replaced Juan Carlos Garrido as manager. Lego, 41, guided Club Brugge to the Belgium's Pro League title two seasons ago.

On the playing side, Al Ain last week sealed a deal to take prolific forward Caio Canedo from Dubai rivals Al Wasl, while they have since recruited midfielders Mohammed Jamal from Al Jazira and Mohammed Helal from Ajman.

Board member Mohammed Obaid Hammad, who played a pivotal role in the transfers, said Meziane’s “high technical abilities” ensured he was confident the Algerian would be a success at the club.

Speaking about Kodjo, Obaid Hammad said the Togolese would prove to be “an important addition to Al Ain’s attacking force” and that Leko has been key to his signing.

The 2018/19 season finished only on May 26, with Al Ain relinquishing their top-flight title to Sharjah. Since, the club has undergone significant change, headed by chairman Ghamim Al Hajeri's departure together with Swedish striker Marcus Berg and Brazil winger Caio. Both the player contracts were not renewed.

Portuguese midfielder Ruben Ribeiro was also released, meaning versatile Japan star Tsukasa Shiotani is the only foreign player to have been retained.

Al Ain had previously resolved a number of contractual issues surrounding some of their more prominent local players, including goalkeeper Khalid Essa and wing-back Bandar Al Anbari.

“The good thing for Al Ain is to settle the foreign players in the squad before beginning preparations for the new season,” Obaid Hammad said. “There are other steps being taken in relation to contracts with local players and residents whom the club intends to sign to strengthen the team and achieve the ambitions of the supporters.”

Updated: June 13, 2019 08:51 PM

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