x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pro League: Al Ain's Ignacio Scocco closing in on European transfer

Argentine returned to his homeland last season on a one-year loan deal with Newell and is currently top scorer in Argentina, writes John McAuley.

Al Ain's Ignacio Scocco, right, thrived during his only Pro League campaign in 2011/12 and formed a key component of Al Ain’s title-winning side. Christopher Pike / The National
Al Ain's Ignacio Scocco, right, thrived during his only Pro League campaign in 2011/12 and formed a key component of Al Ain’s title-winning side. Christopher Pike / The National

Ignacio Scocco, the forward currently on Al Ain's books, seems certain to transfer to a major European league this summer after the club confirmed he will not continue his career at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.

The Argentine has proved a huge success since returning to his homeland last season on a one-year loan deal with Newell's Old Boys, and is currently top scorer in Argentina with 28 goals in 35 appearances.

Scocco thrived during his only Pro League campaign in 2011/12 and formed a key component of Al Ain's title-winning side.

However, Al Ain were surprised when the player asked to move back to Argentina at the conclusion of the season, citing personal reasons. He arrived from AEK Athens, the Greek club, in June 2011 for €3 million (Dh14.4m).

Scocco, 28, has continued to excel at Newell's and is said to have attracted interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland in the English Premier League, while clubs in Spain and Italy are reportedly monitoring his situation. Malaga, Espanyol and Catania have been mentioned as potential suitors.

Although he still has two years remaining on his Al Ain contract, Scocco has a release clause set at €1.8m. Newell's, who paid €600,000 for last season's loan, plan to activate that clause and then sell him on at a significantly inflated fee.

The chances, though, that he will feature again for Al Ain are virtually nil, with a club source describing retaining Scocco as "impossible".

One obstacle in any potential switch could be the player's wages, which stand at €2m per season.

Although deployed by Al Ain on the left side of midfield, his recent contribution as a designated striker at Newell's will be used as a strong bargaining tool in any negotiations.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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