x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

'Settled' Grafite wants to stay at Al Ahli

The Brazilian hopes to stay at the Dubai-based club and feels that if Quique Sanchez Flores stays as coach that they can compete for the title next season.

Grafite, centre, hopes to stay at Al Ahli for one or two more years.
Grafite, centre, hopes to stay at Al Ahli for one or two more years.

DUBAI // Al Ahli's Brazilian striker Grafite is keen to stay at the club for a "year or two" despite interest from top European sides in the forward who scored 30 times for the Etisalat Cup winners last season.

Grafite has been linked with a move back to Germany, where he scored 28 goals to lead Wolfsburg to the 2008/09 Bundesliga title, with Hertha Berlin reportedly interested in the services of the 33 year old.

The French club Lille are also rumoured to be keen on signing him, but in an interview with Fifa.com, Grafite said he is staying in Dubai.

"The fact is that I want to stay here for a year or two longer," he said, revealing that he had offers from French, German and Turkish clubs. "Before I put my career first, but now I'm thinking more about my family and the school my daughters go to."

"My family's settled and happy, and though the league's not as competitive as the Bundesliga, I expected that. I played 35 games and scored 30 goals, 16 of them in the league and 13 in the Etisalat Cup [and one in the GCC Clubs' Championship]."

Grafite said playing in the UAE was not as "easy" as people think, pointing to the presence of internationals such as Asamoah Gyan and Ricardo Oliveira, and "well-known coaches".

Grafite, who signed a two-year deal with Ahli last June, had expressed his desire to continue with the Red Knights after their Etisalat Cup win.

"I hope I will stay because I have one more year on my contract," he said. "I like the team and I like the city. My family likes it here, including my daughter. So I hope to stay, but this decision does not depend on just me. I need to speak to the president of the club for next season, but I hope I will stay."

A member of the Brazil squad at the 2010 World Cup, Grafite is hoping Quique Sanchez Flores, his coach, will also decide to extend his stay at Ahli. The Spaniard has not made a decision yet on the club's renewal offer and is expected to do so sometime later this month.

"Quique is a very good coach and if he stays, we have a big chance for next year," Grafite had said after the win over Al Shabab in the Etisalat Cup final last month. "He has a really strong mentality and he gives a lot of confidence to the players. He is a great motivator.

"The confidence of the players is really important in training and Quique was a wonderful player, a wonderful guy and has a great personality. So I really hope he stays.

"He has worked really hard and some players who were struggling with injuries are back. So I believe we have a big chance of fighting for the league title next season."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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