x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ricardo Oliveira’s absence is problematic for Al Wasl

The Brazilian, who signed with Wasl in January from Jazira on an 18-month contract, was expected back at the Zabeel Stadium on July 20 but has yet to show up. Wasl have not been able to contact Oliveira, reports John McAuley.

Al Wasl’s Ricardo Oliveira, right, has been a no-show for the Dubai club this pre-season. Antonie Robertson / The National
Al Wasl’s Ricardo Oliveira, right, has been a no-show for the Dubai club this pre-season. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // Al Wasl are considering the possibility of replacing Ricardo Oliveira after the striker last week failed to join the squad for pre-season training.

The Brazilian, whose Dh72.5 million transfer fee from Real Betis to Al Jazira in 2009 remains a record spend in the UAE, signed with Wasl in January from Jazira on an 18-month contract. He was expected back at the Zabeel Stadium on July 20 but has yet to show. Wasl have tried contacting Oliveira without success.

Read more: Oliveira hopeful of turnaround in form, of himself and of Al Wasl

Oliveira, 34, is rumoured to have offers from clubs in Brazil, chiefly Palmeiras, although Wasl insist there has been no formal interest registered in their player. With the reasons for the forward’s absence unknown, the Dubai club have begun the process of seeking a replacement.

Given that Wasl are unaware of Oliveira’s whereabouts, the club will consider his motives before deciding how best to resolve the issue.

“We need to get an answer why he didn’t come,” said Majed Obaidallah, the Wasl team manager. “We’re thinking of a new player, but first we need to confirm everything. We don’t want to do anything until we speak to Oliveira.

“He has a contract with us, and breaking the contract sometimes can cost us, too. But, still, we are searching for a new striker, although we haven’t solved this case yet.”

Wasl concede Oliveira’s absence is an unnecessary distraction, especially as Jorginho, their new coach, attempts to confirm his foreign contingent for the 2014/15 Arabian Gulf League season.

Neto Berola and Fabio Virginio de Lima, the Brazilians recruited this summer, take up two of the four allocated slots, with Wasl potentially requiring another two expatriates, one of whom must be Asian.

Ideally, Wasl would conclude their business before heading to Germany for a training camp on Sunday.

“We are searching, we have three or four offers with players, but until now we haven’t confirmed anything,” Obaidallah said.

“We are thinking about these players and I know we are short of time. We need to finalise it, because we have to finish it before camp, which is only a week away.”

Despite the pressing deadline, and given the circumstances surrounding Oliveira, Obaidallah stressed that Wasl are wary of rushing through a signing.

They also need to discover if, by staying away from the club, Oliveira is in breach of his contract.

“We need to look at it as a club,” Obaidallah said. “He has to be more clear than this, be professional and not put us in a problematic situation. We are waiting for him, and if he is planning not to continue, then it creates a problem.”

Wasl are in the market for another striker, should Oliveira fail to return, and a winger.

The club denied reports linking them to Nicklas Bendtner, the Arsenal striker, saying that for now, they are focusing on South American players.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE