x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE football star set for European big league

Emirati player is given permission to pursue dream of playing with European team.

Omar Abdulrahman, the country's best footballer, will be allowed to leave his club to secure his dream of playing in one of Europe's major leagues.

No Emirati has played with a first team in Europe, but Al Ain's coach, Cosmin Olaroiu, said: "Yes, Omar deserves it. He's a fantastic player whose place is abroad and I hope he's going to do this. I hope he gets what he deserves as he'll provide a good image for UAE football and the country."

Abdulrahman is contracted to Al Ain until the end of the 2014/15 season, but the club would be open to a deal with the likes of the English Premier League champions Manchester City, the London team Arsenal and the Portuguese giants Benfica, who have all been linked with the 21-year-old midfielder.

He said City offered him a four-year deal after training with them last summer, and that he would take them up on a second offer.

"I will sign it," he said.

Abdulrahman has been closely watched since his impressive showings for the UAE in the summer's London Olympics.

He was also player of the tournament in January's Gulf Cup where he scored two goals. The second of those came in the final against Iraq, a match that the UAE went on to win 2-1 after extra time.

jmcauley@thenational.ae