Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

Benfica's Caio open to Al Ain return as Garden City club occupy special place in his heart

Brazilian winger has for some time been expected to make move to Portuguese giants once three-year contract ended

Caio, right, is thought to have completed his medical with Benfica during the January winter break and concluded negotiations on a five-year contract. Ali Haider / EPA
Caio, right, is thought to have completed his medical with Benfica during the January winter break and concluded negotiations on a five-year contract. Ali Haider / EPA

Benfica-bound Caio has not ruled out a return to Al Ain in future, saying the club will forever remain in his heart.

The Brazilian, a 2016 signing from Japan’s Kashima Antlers, brought to a close his first stint in the UAE on Sunday night, playing 81 minutes in the 1-0 defeat at Al Wahda in the final round of this season’s Arabian Gulf League. The result meant Al Ain finished fourth in the table.

Caio had long been known to have agreed a deal with Benfica and has for some time been expected to make the move to the Portuguese giants once his three-year contract came to an end with Al Ain next month.

The winger, 25, is thought to have completed his medical with the Portuguese champions during the January winter break and concluded negotiations on a five-year contract.

Asked on Sunday about his emotions following his final appearance for Al Ain, Caio said: “It’s very sad. Because we lost the game and this is my last game. But I’m happy with what I did for Al Ain. Hopefully one day I’ll come back to the club and try to do my best again."

In three years in the Garden City, Caio made 121 appearances, scoring 49 goals. Last season, he helped Al Ain to the Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup double, while he collected the Silver Ball at December’s Fifa Club World Cup, where the hosts finished runners-up to defending champions Real Madrid. Caio was also a beaten finalist with Al Ain in the 2016 Asian Champions League.

“My best memories are from every day; every day coming to training with my friends and being happy," he said.

"And trying my best during the games. Like I said, I tried to give everything for this team, so I’m very happy for my time here.”

In moving to Lisbon, Caio joins a club who earlier his month sealed a record-extending 37th Portuguese league title when they pipped rivals Porto by two points to the top-flight crown. Next season, the two-time European Cup winners will once again contest the Uefa Champions League.

Caio conceded signing for a prominent European side represented a long-held dream.

“Any player wants to play in Europe, in a big club,” he said. “So I’m very happy to be there. I will do everything to do my best there also. It’s a very big club; I believe it will be a great time there.”

On whether Al Ain will always occupy a special place in his heart, Caio replied: “Yes, sure. For sure.”

Updated: May 27, 2019 10:35 PM

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