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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Transfer talk: Al Hilal defender Digao set to join his former manager Giorgos Donis at Sharjah

The Brazilian, a mainstay with the Saudi Arabian giants since joining in December 2013, arrived in the Emirates early Sunday to undergo a medical and finalise the deal. John McAuley reports.
Al Hilal defender Digao, right, defends  Al Ain forward Asamoah Gyan during their AFC Champions League semi-final match on September 30, 2014 at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the UAE. AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI
Al Hilal defender Digao, right, defends Al Ain forward Asamoah Gyan during their AFC Champions League semi-final match on September 30, 2014 at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the UAE. AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI

Sharjah are set to complete the signing of Al Hilal defender Digao, who follows former manager Giorgos Donis to the UAE club.

The Brazilian, a mainstay with the Saudi Arabian giants since joining in December 2013, arrived in the Emirates early Sunday to undergo a medical and finalise the deal. He will then travel to Austria to meet up with the rest of the squad.

Digao, 28, was requested by Donis, his manager at Hilal from February last year until the Greek was dismissed from the post two months ago.

Donis was confirmed as Sharjah’s new manager last week and was originally offered Wilker Angel, the Venezuela international defender at Deportivo Tachira. However, Donis preferred Digao, with Wilker now close to a move to Russia.

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Digao brings significant experience to the Sharjah defence. He played an integral role in Hilal’s journey to the 2014 Asian Champions League final, which they lost to Western Sydney Wanderers. He did, though, help Hilal secure both the 2015 Kings Cup and 2015/16 Crown Prince Cup.

Last season, they finished second to Al Ahli in the Saudi Pro League. In all, Digao made 90 appearances for the Riyadh club.

The centre-back’s arrival is another signal of Sharjah’s intentions for the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League. In recent years, the five-time UAE champions have struggled at the wrong end of the table and last season flirted with relegation before finishing 11th.

But this month they signed Gelmin Rivas, the second-top scorer in the 2015/16 Saudi Pro League, from Al Ittihad.

Sharjah still have another two foreign spots available after deciding not to continue with Mauricio Ramos – whom Digao replaces – Maicosuel and Ricardinho.

Wanderley, their prolific striker, made the switch to Al Nasr earlier this month.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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