x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sanchez Flores stalls in signing Al Ain contract

Differences over deal delay Spaniard being named coach of Arabian Gulf League champions.

Quique Sanchez Flores comes with reputation while as Al Ahli head coach. Jake Badger for The National
Quique Sanchez Flores comes with reputation while as Al Ahli head coach. Jake Badger for The National

DUBAI // Al Ain’s pursuit of Quique Sanchez Flores has hit a stumbling block after it emerged the Spaniard is stalling on the move because of a disagreement over contract terms.

The UAE champions had expected to finalise the acquisition of the former Al Ahli manager this week, as Sanchez Flores flew into the Emirates yesterday to complete the appointment. It is believed he has been offered a two-year contract.

However, differences between the parties regarding the specifics of the agreement has cast doubt on the deal.

A source at Al Ain confirmed they remain confident Sanchez Flores will commit to the club, although they are continuing to assess other potential candidates for the role.

The search for a new manager was prompted by the dismissal earlier this month of Jorge Fossati. The Uruguayan coach had arrived in the Garden City only seven weeks previously, replacing Cosmin Olaroiu, but Fossati clashed with the players and team management regarding training and style of play.

It remains to be seen who Al Ain will focus on, in light of the latest developments with Sanchez Flores. Eric Gerets, the highly respected Belgian, had been in advanced negotiations with the club, yet he is thought to be the front-runner to succeed Fatih Terim at Galatasaray.

Gerets, currently in charge of Lekhwiya in the Qatari Stars League, managed the Turkish club between 2005 and 2007.

Michel Preud’homme, another Belgian, was also linked to Al Ain following the conclusion of his contract with Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab, but he returned to his homeland last week and has been installed as the coach of Club Bruges.

Al Ain’s most likely option would have appeared to be Abel Braga, the former Al Jazira coach who guided the Abu Dhabi club to the double in 2011. The Brazilian was the early favourite to replace Olaroiu, but problems arose regarding the amount of compensation Fluminense, his club at the time, were demanding. Braga was fired by the Brazilian side days after Fossati was introduced at Al Ain, yet the club source insisted he is no longer under consideration.

Sanchez Flores remains Al Ain’s preferred candidate, if the impasse can be resolved. During his time at the Rashid Stadium, the Dubai club won the Etisalat Cup and President’s Cup, while his side improved in the league last season to finish runners-up to Al Ain. He departed in June, citing the conclusion of a two-year project, and was promptly succeeded by, ironically, Olaroiu.

Despite the 2013/14 campaign having already begun, Al Ain maintain they are in no rush to appoint a permanent manager. The Arabian Gulf League is on hiatus for 21 days, after this week’s fixtures, giving the club enough time to select the most suitable coach.

Ahmed Abdullah will continue in his role as caretaker coach for Friday’s encounter at Al Dhafra.

jmcauley@thenational.ae