x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Jimenez feels right at home at Al Ahli

Chilean playmaker to stay after pondering move to Italy while Obaid Al Taweela decides to extend stay.

Luis Jiminez had three offers from Italian clubs.
Luis Jiminez had three offers from Italian clubs.

DUBAI // Luis Jimenez has turned down a chance to return to Italy and committed himself to Al Ahli for next season.

The Chilean playmaker, who signed a four-year deal with Ahli last June, had several offers from Italian Serie A clubs, including Fiorentina, but following discussions with officials at the Dubai club and his family, he has decided to continue playing in the UAE.

Last month, in an interview with Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm, Jimenez had expressed his desire to return to Italy, hoping that a move would improve his chances of a recall to the Chile national team as he would be playing on a bigger stage.

Jimenez was part of Chile's Copa America squad last July but has not been called up for national duty since moving to Ahli, missing all five of Chile's qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.

"I have three offers from Italy, but I have not made a decision yet," Jimenez, 27, had said after Ahli's Etisalat Cup win. "I still have three years on my contract with Ahli and I will talk to the directors of the club. Together, we will make a decision.

"I am happy here in Dubai, but I played for nine years in Italy and returning there will be important for my career."

Jimenez, however, seems to have changed his mind turning down the offer from Fiorentina and a couple of other Italian clubs.

"My family is very happy here in Dubai and they do not want to return to Europe," Jimenez told Al Ittihad. "I am also very happy at Ahli and I believe I improved as the season went on, getting used to the conditions here and the football.

"So unless Ahli don't want me, there is no reason for me to leave. I will stay here and try my best to get back into the [Chile] national team, but I do understand our coach is looking only at players based in Europe or South America. He is not looking at the UAE."

Obaid Al Taweela, the goalkeeper, will also remain at Al Ahli after signing a two-year extension with the Red Knights, despite offers from other clubs.

"I had bigger offers from other clubs, but I prefer to stay at Ahli because I feel comfortable here," Al Taweela told Al Ittihad.

"I feel at home here and this is more important for me than the extra money I could have made at another club."

Al Taweela, 32, came to Ahli from Dubai in 2007.

Ahli are also negotiating with Al Hilal to keep Achille Emana for next season. The Cameroonian midfielder has made a big impression since joining on loan in January and Ahli officials are keen to keep him.

Meanwhile, Ahli will start their preparations for the 2012/13 campaign from July 10 and will train at home during the month of Ramadan before travelling to Europe for a 16-day camp after the Eid Al Fitr holidays in August.

arizv@thenational.ae

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