x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Omar Abdulrahman will stay at Al Ain for 2012/13

I would expect him to be playing European football within three years, says club spokesman

Al Ain's Omar Abdulrahman, right, spent two weeks on trial at Manchester City recently. Christopher Pike / The National
Al Ain's Omar Abdulrahman, right, spent two weeks on trial at Manchester City recently. Christopher Pike / The National

Al Ain will step up attempts to conclude the acquisition of two foreign players now the future of Omar Abdulrahman, the club's coveted playmaker, has been resolved.

The Emirati was the subject of interest from Manchester City following accomplished performances for the UAE Olympic team and last week completed a two-week trial with the English Premier League champions.

Abdulrahman, 20, returned to Al Ain despite impressing the City management, and the conclusion to the speculation surrounding him has allowed the Pro League champions to focus on recruitment.

Al Ain will now push forward deals for one Europe-based and one Asian player as they seek to replace Yasser Al Qahtani and Ignacio Scocco, key players in last season's title triumph who have since left the club.

"We were waiting to see what was happening with Omar," a spokesman at Al Ain said. "It looks like he's staying this season, which is [good] news for the club and a huge boost in helping us retain the league and in our Asian Champions League bid, although I would expect him to be playing European football within three years.

"He's the most talented Emirati player and now, following his trial with City, is the best-known UAE player outside the country."

On Wednesday, members of the Al Ain board travelled to the team's training camp in Madrid to discuss potential targets - positions on the left side of midfield and up front - with Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach.

For the Asian slot, a shortlist comprises players only from the continent's highest-ranked nations: Australia, South Korea and Japan.

Park Chu-young, the South Korean forward at Arsenal, was the No 1 target, yet the player wants to remain in Europe despite Al Ain offering a "very competitive package".

Michel Bastos, meanwhile, remains the preferred choice for the left-sided role. Al Ain hope to complete a deal for the Lyon winger in the next week worth between €7.5 million (Dh34.6m) and €8m. The Brazilian has already agreed in principal to join the Garden City club.

Al Ain are one of the few Pro League sides still to fill their foreign quota and, while they face Al Jazira in the season-opening Super Cup on September 17, they are determined to ensure the new signings are in place before the defence of their title kicks off six days later against Al Ahli.

"We know there is pressure regarding time, but the transfer window here has another month on it yet," the spokesman said. "However, we will have both positions filled before the season starts."

The closure tonight of the European transfer window could accelerate negotiations, as Al Ain recognise that, because the selling club will be unable to sign a replacement, from tomorrow potential targets would acquire an inflated fee.

However, they maintain they will not be rushed into rash decisions.

"The management and board of directors are very aware the players we have to bring in need to have the right personality, both on and off the pitch, as well as being a top-quality footballer," the spokesman said.

"We do our research, making sure they are the right player not just for the team but for the club and the image we portray at Al Ain."

jmcauley@thenational.ae