Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s long search for a first signing since their shock summer merger is set to be ended outside the transfer window after ex-South Korea Under-23 playmaker Moon Chang-jin began training with them this week.
Moon, 24, has been practising under the watch of coach Cosmin Olaroiu since gaining his release from K League Classic-promoted side Gangwon FC in the wake of October 1’s 1-1 draw against Ulsan Hyundai. The Rio 2016 Olympics quarter-finalist is now poised to ink a deal until June 2018 thanks to Article 37 in the UAE Football Federation’s rulebook, which allows free agents to join within three weeks of the market shutting – October 2 was the closing date.
Prominent Emirati agent Nasser Kashwani was putting the final touches on the attacking midfielder’s registration on Wednesday. The new boy will fulfil the designated Asian-qualified spot in the four-player foreign quota, potentially beginning with Saturday’s hosting of Emirates Club in the Arabian Gulf League.
More than 30 players had previously exited without replacements being procured since May’s surprise amalgamation of Al Shabab, Al Ahli and promoted Dubai CSC.
The slight Moon has struck six times in 30 matches for Gangwon after a €250,000 (Dh954,942) move from Pohang Steelers in December 2016. He had scored 10 goals in 86 run-outs for his boyhood club, following a debut in June 2012.
Olaroiu has been without an Asian player at Ahli since Moon’s compatriot Kwon Kyung-won was sold to ambitious Chinese Super League-outfit Tianjin Quanjian for $11 million last January. In the wake of the merger, Uzbekistan veteran Azizbek Haydarov was released after six years with Shabab – he subsequently joined yo-yo club Ajman.
A €1m (Dh4.4m) offer was made for Jeonnam Dragons midfielder Kim Young-uk last month, but this transaction went incomplete.
Shabab Al Ahli’s current non-Emiratis are prolific Senegal centre forward Makhete Diop, compatriot and €17m (Dh70m) record buy Moussa Sow plus Moldova forward Henrique Luvannor.