Highly-rated midfielder shuns interest from UAE's top sides by committing long-term future to Arabian Gulf League club, reports John McAuley.
Transfer news: Hassan Ibrahim agrees to extend stay at Al Shabab
DUBAI // Al Shabab's preparations for next season have received a major boost after Hassan Ibrahim agreed a new four-year contract with the club.
The Emirati, 22, has attracted considerable interest following a breakthrough 2012/13 campaign, in which he featured in 17 Pro League matches and contested four of his side's eight Asian Champions League fixtures.
A cool head in Shabab's midfield despite his relative inexperience, Ibrahim was called up to the UAE national team in March for the Asian Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan.
However, Ibrahim has decided to commit his long-term future to Shabab, which will only help in the club's bid to improve on the fifth-place finish they secured in the most recent league standings.
They will expect another strong display in the President's Cup, too, having been narrowly beaten in the final by Ahli, their Dubai neighbours.
Crucial to Shabab's aspirations for the rebranded Arabian Gulf League will be who they recruit as Luiz Henrique's replacement.
The Brazilian playmaker, who alongside Ciel and Edgar Bruno formed the focus of coach Marcos Paqueta's attack, last week signed a one-year deal with Emirates club.
With Ciel and Bruno still in the squad, and the Uzbek midfielder Azizbek Haydarov seen as a valuable member of the team, Shabab are in the market for only one other foreign player.
Meanwhile, Essa Obaid will sit down with club officials within the next few weeks to determine whether he remains part of Paqueta's plans.
The Emirati midfielder, 29, played 19 league matches last season, scoring five goals, yet is entering the final year of his contract and is thought to interest a number of UAE clubs.
Jazira off target as Belhanda goes to Dynamo Kiev
Belhanda, 23, played a key role when Montpellier clinched their first French league title in 2012, scoring 12 goals in 28 matches.
He was named Ligue 1 best young player at the end of that season.
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