x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Portuguese midfielder Hugo Viana edges closer to UAE move

The potential transfer of Hugo Viana to Al Ahli has moved a step closer with the player reportedly travelling to Dubai to discuss terms with the Pro League club.

DUBAI // The potential transfer of Hugo Viana to Al Ahli has moved a step closer with the player reportedly travelling to Dubai to discuss terms with the Pro League club.

The Portuguese midfielder, currently employed by Sporting Braga, is believed to be keen on negotiating a two-year deal at the Rashid Stadium. His signing would appear to increase the likelihood of Quique Sanchez Flores extending his stay beyond this season, as it is understood the coach requested the bid for the player he once managed during his time at Valencia, the Spanish Primera Liga side.

Viana's arrival would appear to signal the end of Ricardo Quaresma's short Ahli career, with the winger expected to swap the UAE top flight for Turkey's Super Lig. Galatasaray is the most likely destination, for a fee of €3 million (Dh14.1m).

Viana did not train with Braga on Thursday, prompting reports in Portugal that the former Sporting Lisbon and Newcastle United star had departed for Dubai. The 30 year old, a free agent when his contract expires on June 1, has significant international experience, too, and was part of Portugal's squad at both the 2002 and 2006 Fifa World Cup.

He was also included in his national team's 23-man roster for last summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

Ahli have refused to comment on prospective transfers until they conclude their season with the President's Cup final against Al Shabab on Tuesday night. However, on Thursday a Portuguese website, Maisfutebol, quoted Roy Aitken, Ahli's director of football, as saying: "[Viana] is one of the players we are looking at."

Aitken then seemed to rule out a fresh approach for Pablo Aimar, the Benfica playmaker linked with Ahli in January, adding: "for now, he is not a target, but in football things can change from one day to another."

Ahli are allegedly already in talks with Ibrahim Diaky, the Al Jazira midfielder, although his current club have denied a switch is imminent. In fact, the Jazira board insisted they expect Diaky, who turns 31 on Friday, to honour his contract, which runs until the end of next season.

 

jmcauley@thenational.ae