El Shahat credits Arabian Gulf League club experience for receiving international call-up, writes John McAuley from Zurich
Egypt winger Hussein El Shahat signs permanent deal with Al Ain
Hussein El Shahat has marked his debut call-up to the Egypt national team by signing a permanent deal with Arabian Gulf League leaders Al Ain.
The midfielder, 25, is in Switzerland for an eight-day training camp with his national team as he looks to make his international bow this week.
As El Shahat trained with the first team in Zurich late on Tuesday, Al Ain announced the player had agreed a three-year contract with the club following a superb few months on loan from Egypt’s Misr El Makkasa.
Recruited in January originally on a six-month deal, El Shahat has scored seven goals and registered 12 assists in 12 appearances across all competitions. Al Ain lead the UAE top flight and require two victories from their final three matches to be crowned champions.
El Shahat’s form prompted the call-up to Egypt, with the in-form winger hoping to make a late run into the squad for this summer’s World Cup.
The transfer to Al Ain had been reported to be in jeopardy earlier this week, although all parties came to an amicable agreement to ensure El Shahat signed a contract, beginning next season, until 2021.
Al Ain were rumoured to have spent US$4 million (Dh14.7m) to acquire the player’s services, yet the actual fee is believed to be much closer to $2.5m. El Shahat thanked both his former club and Al Ain for pushing through the deal, saying he had a strong desire to represent the latter since first donning the shirt.
"I would also like to thank manager Zoran Mamic, the management team and my colleagues for the excellent atmosphere and team spirit they have created,” he said. “I also thank the Al Ain fans for their full support since I joined the team.”
Given his explosive contribution to Al Ain, El Shahat had been in demand, attracting interest from within the UAE and the Gulf region. Meanwhile, Egyptian heavyweights Al Ahly were also keen.
However, El Shahat said he is focused solely on helping Al Ain to more trophies, starting by celebrating the club’s 50-year anniversary with the AGL crown and then perhaps even the Asian Champions League. Continental champions in 2003 and runners-up two years ago, Al Ain sit third in Group D, two points off qualification with two matches still to play.
“I have set out to show my best alongside my teammates and to defend the Al Ain badge,” El Shahat said. “We aim to achieve local and continental titles from this season to mark the golden jubilee for this great club.”