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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

High-scoring striker Makhete Diop joins AGL champions Al Ahli from Al Dhafra

The UAE champions, currently fourth in the Arabian Gulf League, have agreed a deal with the prolific Senegalese striker, who has scored 77 goals in 109 top-flight appearances since his debut in 2012.
Handout of Makhete Diop at his signing ceremony with new club Al Ahli. Photo courtesy Al Ahli
Handout of Makhete Diop at his signing ceremony with new club Al Ahli. Photo courtesy Al Ahli

DUBAI // Al Ahli have signed Makhete Diop from Al Dhafra on a three-and-a half-year contract.

The UAE champions, currently fourth in the Arabian Gulf League, agreed to a deal until 2020 with the prolific Senegalese striker, who has scored 77 goals in 109 top-flight appearances since moving to the Emirates in 2012. This season, he has struck 17 times in 20 matches across all competitions.

It is understood Diop, 29, will take Rodrigo Lima’s place in the squad for the second half of the season, with the Brazilian forward still out injured. Lima is not expected to return to full training until late February.

Diop had been linked extensively this transfer window with a move to Al Ain, however he has chosen to join Ahli. The Dubai club, who announced the deal on Thursday, should have the frontman available to face Al Ain on Saturday, in the rescheduled league match from Round 3.

Diop has long been admired by a host of clubs both in the country and in the Gulf. A regular goalscorer, he notched a hat-trick against Ahli last month in the 3-3 draw at the Rashid Stadium. Ahli hope he can help the club in their bid to retain the top-flight title and qualify from the group stages of next year’s Asian Champions League. Ahli were beaten finalists last year.

Even with Diop’s arrival, the club remain in the market for reinforcements, including an Asian player to replace South Korean Kwon Kyung-won, who has signed for China’s Tianjin Quanjian for $11 million (Dh40.4m). A shortlist has been drawn up, with three international South Koreans considered.

Meanwhile, Ahli still hold a genuine interest in Leonardo, the Brazilian forward at 2016 Asian Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Leonardo, second top scorer in this year’s tournament with 10 goals, is currently in the UAE as Ahli attempt to push through a deal.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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