x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Jazira break record for Brazilian Oliveira

The striker Ricardo Oliveira becomes the UAE Pro League's most expensive player with his ?14million move to the Abu Dhabi club.

The Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira believes he has made the right decision for himself and his former club, Real Betis.
The Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira believes he has made the right decision for himself and his former club, Real Betis.

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira have broken the UAE's transfer record to sign Real Betis's Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira for a fee of ?14million (Dh72.5m). The former AC Milan forward will fill the void left by his fellow countryman Fernando Baiano, whom Jazira lost to city rivals Al Wahda.

Oliveira, 29, will become the new strike partner of another former Betis player, Rafael Sobis, the previous record signing at ?10m, for the big spending Abu Dhabi club. Oliveira's move to Jazira comes after Betis were relegated to Spain's second division. He was part owned by Primera Liga side Real Zaragoza, who will receive half of the transfer fee. "I thought of the family and I had to make this decision," said Oliveira. "It's an offer that will benefit for both, Betis and Zaragoza. I have taken the decision and has been important to me and Betis."

Jazira officials were not available for comment, but Oliveira's move to Abu Dhabi, believed to be on a three or four-year contract, was made public by the Spanish club yesterday. Jazira have never won any major domestic silverware. The closest they came were when finishing runners up twice in the last two seasons in the league. Sobis and Baiano, who scored 35 goals in all competitions, struck a wonderful partnership last season. But that relationship was broken after Baiano turned down a new two-year contract for ?5m, demanding a three-year deal for ?9m.

Jazira hope Oliveira will establish a similar understanding with Sobis, but that may not happen at the start of the season as the former Internacional striker has been ruled out for the first part of the season. Oliveira may have to play alongside the speedy Ivorian forward Tony, as Sobis is not expected to return to the action until December after suffering a knee ligament injury in May. Oliveira joined Betis in 2004 after spending his early days with the Brazilian clubs Portuegesa and Santos before a season with Valencia in 2003 under the current Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.

He scored 26 league goals in 46 appearances in his first spell with Betis as the Andalusians reached the Uefa Champions League after finishing fourth, and also won the 2005 Spanish cup, beating Osasuna. Oliveira's spell in Seville had its fair share of controversy. He was fined multiple times by the club: for breaching his contract, returning late from international duty and finally for having a medical test with Milan without authorization.

He finally agreed a ?17.5million move to Italy in 2006, but his time in Serie A was a disappointment and he scored just five goals for the Italian giants. During that season his sister was kidnapped by gunmen in Brazil and held for five months before being released unharmed. He returned to Spain with Zaragoza in 2007 and formed a lethal partnership with Argentine striker Diego Milito, now of Inter Milan. The pair scored 33 of the side's 50 goals in the 2007-08 season, but could not stop the club from being relegated. He moved back to Betis in Jan 2009, but suffered a second relegation in two years.

Oliveira has 11 caps and three goals for Brazil, and was included in the squad for the 2004 Copa America and the 2005 Confederations Cup. He missed out on the 2006 World Cup squad after suffering a knee ligament injury. apassela@thenational.ae