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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Omar Abdulrahman shuns Europe to agree four-year deal with Al Ain

UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman has decided to shun interest from Europe to agree a new four-year deal with Al Ain.
Omar Abdulrahman, in action against Al Hilal in the AFC Champions League semi-final, has committed his future to Al Ain. Marwan Naamani / AFP
Omar Abdulrahman, in action against Al Hilal in the AFC Champions League semi-final, has committed his future to Al Ain. Marwan Naamani / AFP

Omar Abdulrahman has decided to turn his back on any potential move to Europe by agreeing a new four-year contract with Al Ain.

The 23-year-old playmaker has long been linked with a move to a European league and after his star showing at the Asian Cup - where he led the UAE to third place - offers were expected to be forthcoming.

However, any chance of a departure from the Arabian Gulf League now seems unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future, after Abdulrahman signed a new contract thought to be worth Dh14 million a year.

The UAE international revealed the news on his official Twitter page on Friday night.

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He wrote: “For the grace of Allah and the support of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, I have renewed my contract with Al Ain.”

Abdulrahman is regarded as the finest talent in Emirati football and first came to the attention of the wider public at the London 2012 Olympic Games where he received rave reviews from the likes of Luis Suarez, Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards.

A trial at Premier League champions Manchester City duly followed, although Abdulrahman returned to the UAE to help Al Ain to a second successive league title.

During that same season, the midfielder was part of the victorious UAE side that won the Gulf Cup of Nations, with Abdulrahman named player of the tournament.

Last season, Abdulrahman’s season was disrupted somewhat by injury as Al Ain surrendered their league title to Al Ahli, but any doubts about his talent quickly vanished at the recent Asian Cup in Australia.

He was pivotal in the UAE’s 4-1 defeat of Qatar, produced the assist of the tournament for the opener against Bahrain, and put in a tireless display in the narrow loss to Iran.

Then came the remarkable penalty shoot-out victory over champions Japan in the quarter-finals where Abdulrahman slotted his spot-kick home with an outrageous Panenka-style finish.

Although he struggled against Australia in the semi-finals, Abdulrahman was back to his best to ensure the bronze for the UAE in a 3-2 win over Iraq.

Kefah Al Kaabi, a leading sports commentator for Dubai Radio, said it was no surprise Abdulrahman accepted the contract extension from Al Ain.

“It was bound to happen at some point soon,” he said. “It was not a surprise and we knew all the time he wasn’t leaving anywhere.

“An Emirati player of the calibre of Omar will not be released by the club in the first place. Secondly, it is very hard for an Emirati player to adapt to the lifestyle outside their homes.

“Abdulrahman is a superstar in the country and he won’t enjoy the same status elsewhere. Who will leave such luxury and leave to another land and be nobody? So there was no doubt where he was going to remain.”

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