Kashima Antlers starlet Caio tops Al Ain shopping list

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Star in the making: Caio.

Al Ain have turned to Japan once again and lodged a bid for Kashima Antlers left winger Caio.

Caio, 22, has risen to the top of the Boss’ list of wide men after an impressive start to his professional career in the J1 League.

An offer worth approximately €3 million (Dh12.4m) for the 2014 Rookie of the Year has been rejected because superior amounts from two unnamed Qatar Stars League outfits have been provided, although tentative interest from Al Wasl is not expected to complicate the situation.

The UAE’s most-decorated club remain keen to complete the deal and secure the signature of a player they believe can compliment right-footed speedster Danilo Asprilla.

Al Ain have also distanced themselves from reports in Turkey about an approach to Hungary captain and Bursaspor star Balazs Dzsudzsak.

Recent success in the Japanese market has strengthened this desire, with striker and fellow Brazilian Douglas, 28, netting an impressive 18 times in 22 games since a €4m (Dh16m) move from Tokushima Vortis during January.

To facilitate Caio’s potential spot in the four-player foreign quota, centre midfielder Fellipe Bastos has been made available for transfer. But the 26-year-old could prove difficult to shift.

He has two years remaining on a contract signed upon arrival from Vasco Da Gama last summer and potential problems relocating his family to Saudi Arabia has ensured a lukewarm reaction to an approach from Al Ahli Jeddah.

Even if the sale of the ex-Benfica and PSV Eindhoven proves abortive, the Arabian Gulf League runners-up intend to press on with the recruitment of a left-sided, non-Emirati attacker which they are convinced could help unseat champions Al Ahli.

Another strong run of performances during just his third top-flight campaign has drawn wide interest in Caio’s services.

The Aracatubanative’s lethal ability to cut in from the left onto his favoured right foot has seen him register five goals and three assists as Kashima sit second in the table after 15 matches. This follows eight goals and five assists in 30 J1 League games during his breakthrough 2014, with 11 goals and six assists in 32 matches coming the season after.

In total, he boasts the excellent average of a goal or assist every 136.8 minutes. Caio – who has also spoken about the possibility of naturalisation after moving to Japan in 2011 aged 17 – has recently been embroiled in a racism scandal.

Urawa Red Diamonds on Monday said an offensive tweet directed at him by apparent supporter @urawatsubasa last week was “absolutely intolerable”.

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Al Ahli to begin title defence against Emirates Club

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Team to beat: Al Ahli.

Al Ahli’s title defence will get under way between September 16-18 after the Pro League Committee released the fixtures for the first half of the new season.

The Red Knights stormed to a seventh Arabian Gulf League crown last term, finishing nine points ahead of holders Al Ain.

Relegation strugglers Emirates Club will be up first at Rashid Stadium, with the final date for the game to be announced in the future.

The decision about the schedule followed a coordination meeting between organising body the PLC and the UAE Football Association on Sunday. This saw the original start date moved forward a day from September 15.

Domestic action will restart on September 2-3 with the first round of group games in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

Champions Al Wahda will face Al Jazira in Group A, with beaten finalist Al Shabab kicking off against Dibba Al Fujairah in Group B.

Shadow squads will be expected for the opening cup games, with the fixtures falling between the UAE’s opening third round qualifiers for World Cup 2018.

The sixth and final round of group matches will be played between December 12-13. In the AGL, round 13 will signal the halfway stage and it will come on December 22-23.

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Farfan could be denied River Plate move over quota concerns

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Struggles: Peru's Farfan failed to ignite at Al Jazira.

Jefferson Farfan’s exit route out of Al Jazira has been complicated by River Plate’s foreign quota, according to Argentine media.

Farfan, 31, is set to be sold by the Pride of Abu Dhabi just one injury-ravaged year after he was snapped up for €6 million (Dh24.2m) from Schalke 04.

The Peru international has made just 11 appearances in all competitions, with a serious ankle ligament tear during November’s 4-1 loss at Al Ahli prematurely ending his campaign.

A re-jig of the President’s Cup winners squad has made his position vulnerable. He has been offered to the Argentine giants at a cut-price fee, but there are doubts they will take up the offer.

The 36-time Primera Division champions are only allowed four non-native players in their squad. With only seven days until pre-season starts, newspaper Ole reports there is a reluctance to change the current selection.

A move for Farfan would mean one of Colombia centre-back Eder Alvarez Balanta or Uruguayan quartet Rodrigo Mora, Tabare Viudez, Camilo Mayada or Ivan Alonso would have to leave.

Another player set to exit the Arabian Gulf League is Al Nasr misfit Nilmar, who ESPN report, could move to Fluminense in his homeland of Brazil.

Flu are on the lookout for a striker to replace Fred, who has been sold to Atletico Mineiro. His fellow former Brazil international is on their list of targets, with the Blue Wave happy to cut him loose after just 11 goals in 26 frustrating top-flight appearances.

Meanwhile, Bani Yas have narrowed down their search for a new coach to two candidates.

Dr Abdullah Misfir left the Sky Blues earlier this month after disagreements about the club’s future direction. A South American – which could be ex-Racing Club supremo Diego Cocca – and a European are in the mix.

“We have been through the CVs of coaches from Europe and Latin America and we have agreed, in coordination with the technical committee, to choose one from each,” vice-chairman Mubarak Awad bin Mahirom told Arabic media.

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