x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Wahda snap up Baiano

Fernando Baiano, the Pro League's top-scorer, has joined Al Wahda from city rivals Al Jazira.

Al Jazira's Fernando Baiano, right, and Al Wahda's Hamdan Al Kamali in action during the UAE Pro League last season.
Al Jazira's Fernando Baiano, right, and Al Wahda's Hamdan Al Kamali in action during the UAE Pro League last season.

ABU DHABI // Fernando Baiano, the Pro League's top-scorer, has joined Al Wahda from city rivals Al Jazira. And Wahda's deputy chief executive Khaled Awadh said they had signed the Brazilian for a "bargain". Baiano, 30, topped the scoring charts in both the Pro League and the Etisalat Cup, and scored three times in the Asian Champions League, racking up 35 goals in his debut season for Jazira.

The striker had a three-year contract with the Spanish club Murcia and spent his second season on loan with Jazira. After an impressive first season, in which he established a strong partnership with the Brazilian international Rafael Sobis, Baiano was offered a new two-year contract for ?5million (Dh25.7m) but he had wanted a three-year deal for ?9m. The deal fell through and he signed for Wahda. Awadh did not reveal the amount, but said: "We signed him for three years for much less than he demanded from Jazira. Al Ahli and a Qatari club were also after him but we managed to secure his signature for a good bargain deal."

Baiano will join fellow Brazilian midfielder Pinga, whose contract has been renewed for a third year. Wahda are close to signing the Al Ain goalkeeper Mutaz Abdulla, 34. "His contract will expire at the end of July and we are in the final stages of signing a two-year contract with him. We have suffered without a decent goalkeeper and Mutaz's presence can strengthen this area," said Awadh Wahda have also signed a one-year contract with the Oman international Hassan Mudhafer, following the Asian Football Confederation's "3+1" policy of adding a professional of Asian origin to the quota of three foreign signings.

Awadh added: "We are still scouting for our third foreign player and we will do that before our summer camp in Europe in July." Baiano and Sobis struck up a lethal partnerships and the combination was one of the most impressive in the domestic game. Jazira are now left with the task of finding a new striker to partner Sobis. Baiano moved to Spain four years ago after successful seasons with Brazilian clubs Corinthians, Internacional and Flamengo.

His first spell in Europe was with the Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in 2003-04. He returned to Brazil in the following year to play for Sao Caetano. He moved to Spain in 2005, first with the La Liga side Malaga for one season and the second year with Celta Vigo, where he scored 28 goals. When Celta were relegated, Baiano signed a three-year contract with Murcia for ?5m. apassela@thenational.ae