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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Al Wasl insist Brazilian playmaker Fabio De Lima is not for sale

Dubai club last week rejected an approach from Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr

Al Wasl forward Fabio De Lima has scored 80 times in 97 UAE top-flight appearances since moving to the Emirates in 2014. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Al Wasl forward Fabio De Lima has scored 80 times in 97 UAE top-flight appearances since moving to the Emirates in 2014. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Al Wasl are adamant Fabio De Lima is not for sale having already rejected an offer for the star forward.

The Dubai club, who hope to have a new manager in place in the coming days following Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s departure last week, have resolved to keep the Brazilian amid persistent interest from within the region and beyond.

De Lima, 24, signed a contract extension in December that runs until 2022 and is happy at the Zabeel Stadium. Voted the Arabian Gulf League’s best foreign player last year, he is on a three-man shortlist for the award again - its winner will be announced in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night - having scored 19 goals and registered five assists to help Wasl finish third in the table.

Speculation has continued to swirl that Saudi Arabian champions Al Hilal have targeted the playmaker, who since moving to the Emirates in 2014 has scored 80 times in 97 UAE top-flight appearances.

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However, Wasl received an official offer for De Lima from Hilal’s Saudi Pro League rivals Al Nassr, which was promptly turned down. The club informed Nassr that the player is not for sale.

Wasl are set to retain De Lima and the other two members of their all-Brazilian attack, Caio and Ronaldo Mendes. Anthony Caceres, the Australian who spent the season on loan from Manchester City, is not expected to stay.

Meanwhile, Wasl are close to appointing a new manager. Arruabarrena left the club following last Thursday’s defeat to Al Ain in the President’s Cup final after overseeing two seasons of real progress. Argentine compatriot Gustavo Quinteros, who coached last season at Nassr, looks favourite for the role.