Three faces on radar for champions Al Ain in hunt for Asian player
The Pro League champions have left it late in the transfer window to conclude business, having missed out on Park Chu-young, the South Korea striker who last month joined Spain's Celta Vigo on a season-long loan from Arsenal of the English Premer League.
Park had been identified as Al Ain's preferred choice to fill the position in the team vacated by Yasser Al Qahtani, the Saudi striker who left at the end of last season.
However, Park decided to remain in Europe, leaving Al Ain to recalibrate their plans. Alex Brosque, the Australian international currently with the J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan, is one of three names on their shortlist.
The club had considered Harry Kewell, the former Leeds United and Liverpool winger, but Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach, did not feel the Australian, who has a long history of injury problems, represented a valuable addition to his squad.
Al Ain will watch the three candidates feature for their countries during the next few days before making a final decision. They plan to unveil the new recruit before they kick off the season next Monday with their Super Cup clash against Al Jazira.
"The search for the Asian player is ongoing, but ideally by the end of this week we'll have our player signed, sealed and delivered," a spokesman at Al Ain said.
"There's a possible three options. The recruitment committee sat down with the coach on Saturday night and discussed with him what we need. Those discussions will continue. We're entering the final stages of the process now."
Al Ain have been monitoring Brosque for the past three seasons, yet plans to move for the attacking midfielder were shelved last summer once the club became aware of the availability of Al Qahtani, one of the region's most high-profile players.
Brosque, 28, recently rejected an opportunity to switch to the Saudi side Al Ittihad, and would welcome the chance to join, in the Pro League, compatriots Lucas Neill and Nick Carle, the new signings at Al Wasl and Baniyas, respectively.
Brosque has been capped 16 times by his country and has experience of playing in Europe following brief spells at Feyenoord in Holland and Westerloo, the Belgian Pro League side.
He did not excel at either club, though, and spent the majority of his career with Sydney FC before moving to Shimizu in January 2011.
"We wanted to make sure he could prove himself in Asia because, although the Australians playing outside their country tend to be top players, the domestic A-League is not that high a standard," the spokesman added. "But he is not the only name being considered."
Al Ain have also been linked with Mike Havenaar, Vitesse Arnhem's Japanese striker who on Thursday scored the winner in a friendly against the UAE, but decided not to offer him a contract as Olaroiu considers him too similar to their current frontman Asamoah Gyan.
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Updated: September 9, 2012 04:00 AM