x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Transfer talk: Al Ain's Omar Abdulrahman 'above a trial at Arsenal'

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed says club will consider only 'serious' bids, indicating Premier League side's trial offer will be ignored. John McAuley reports.

Omar Abdulrahman, right, is said to have courted interest from a number of European clubs, although none have submitted what Al Ain regard as a concrete offer for the UAE international playmaker. AFP
Omar Abdulrahman, right, is said to have courted interest from a number of European clubs, although none have submitted what Al Ain regard as a concrete offer for the UAE international playmaker. AFP

AL AIN // The chairman of Al Ain's board of directors says the club will consider only "serious" offers for Omar Abdulrahman, an indication that Arsenal's invitation for the midfielder to go to London for a one-week trial will be ignored.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed reiterated that Al Ain's precocious midfielder "is a national treasure" and suggested the player has passed "the testing phase" of his career when he should be subject to a trial by a club potentially interested in him, such as the English Premier League side Arsenal.

The UAE international's future has been the subject of much conjecture since he starred for his country at last summer's London Olympics, a contribution that prompted Manchester City to grant him two weeks' time training with the then-Premier League champions.

Then, in January, the Portugal side Benfica was believed to have made an offer to Al Ain to take Abdulrahman on a half-season loan. However, he remained with the local side and helped them win another their 11th league championship.

Al Ain last week received an official letter from Arsenal inviting Abdulrahman to join them on trial at their London Colney base.

The UAE champions maintain the final decision is the player's, although Sheikh Abdullah confirmed the club have yet to be approached this summer regarding a more concrete move.

"Omar Abdulrahman is a national treasure, which is why the club is keen to study with great attention only serious offers that are beneficial to the player," he said. "Omar is above having to go on trial to prove his skills, as he has played high-quality league and international matches, which are the real test.

"Any club willing to recruit Omar can check his performance in all his games and then submit a serious offer to sign him. If there is one, we are ready to negotiate with the team and reach a compromise."

Despite the approach from Arsenal, and continued reported interest from Barcelona and Valencia two of Spain's best-established Primera Liga clubs and Germany's Schalke, Al Ain are confident Abdulrahman will form an integral component of the upcoming 2013/14 Arabian Gulf League campaign.

It is unclear whether Arsenal will revisit the possibility of taking the playmaker for a short period of evaluation.

An Al Ain source has already implied the timing of the arrangement does not suit the champions. On Sunday, they embark on a two-week training camp in Austria. They return only days before the season-opening Super Cup match against Al Ahli on August 30.

When asked about the recent contact from Arsenal, Rashid bin Mubarak Al Hajri, the Al Ain vice chairman, said: "By all means, it's the player's call, but there was nothing serious to come from this.

"Omar is happy where he is and, for sure, we'll try to create the environment where Omar can help Al Ain and Al Ain can help Omar."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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