x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

United pair open to move to UAE

Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, two of Manchester Uniteds longest-serving stalwarts, are sounding out the possibility of big-money moves to the Pro League next season.

DUBAI // Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, two of Manchester United's longest-serving stalwarts, are sounding out the possibility of big-money moves to the Pro League next season.

And Ruud Gullit, the European Footballer of the Year in 1987 and former manager of Chelsea, has expressed his interest in becoming the latest high profile addition to the league.

The arrival of Giggs, who has won the Premier League 11 times, and Neville, the 85-cap England full-back, would represent a major coup for the league.

Al Ahli, Al Jazira, Al Wasl, Al Nasr and Al Ain are all believed to be interested in signing the two United players and have made their interest known to them.

Giggs and Neville are in the final season of their contracts with United. They are free to talk to other clubs from January.

Neville, 35, has made it clear he would consider a move next season; the idea of finishing his career in the Middle East appeals to him.

The former United captain regularly visits the UAE on holiday and already owns property in Dubai.

Giggs, who turns 37 next month, is expected to continue at Old Trafford for one more season, but is also said to be interested in the possibility of playing in the Pro League.

He met with Tony Coton, the former Manchester United goalkeeper who is now the goalkeeping coach at Al Ahli, while on holiday in Dubai with wife Stacey earlier this month and was keen to hear Coton's take on expatriate life.

Coton said he was in the dark as to whether he would be joined in the Emirates by either of his former colleagues.

"I had lunch with Ryan when he was here and he asked whether I was enjoying it and asked about the standard of the league, but that was all. It was just in passing, then we started talking about United again," Coton said.

"Sometimes players give you a little indication what they are thinking, they try and sound it out, but I never got that at all. Ryan will have lots of options when he decides to call it a day, so I don't know the likelihood of [him coming to the UAE]."

Gullit, meanwhile, met with Wasl officials during a trip to Dubai last week and was in the crowd for their 2-1 win over Kalba on October 17.

"It's nice to see the development of the game in Dubai and maybe one day I will be here also," Gullit said in an interview last week. "I could manage here. There has always been interest and you never know."

He said his immediate focus is on the joint Belgium-Holland bid for the 2018 World Cup. Fifa will announce the winning bidders on December 2, leaving Gullit available to resume his coaching career thereafter. The 48-year-old, who has coached Newcastle United, Feyenoord and LA Galaxy, hopes for "a good result" in the bid process "then I will see" about a coaching job.

Wasl once had four managers in one season (2008/09) but they are unlikely to dispatch their current coach to make way for Gullit, despite his global appeal.

Sergio Farias, the Brazilian who led South Korea's Pohang Steelers to last season's Asian Champions League title and the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, has Wasl playing their best football in years, leading them to third place after eight games.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae