Caneda, 49, has earned a burgeoning reputation after leading both Al Ittihad and Al Nassr to success during spells in the Saudi Professional League. A profound impact on the career of Manchester City revolutionary Guardiola was also exerted when the pair bonded at Mexico’s Dorados de Sinaloa in 2006.
Such achievements have made the Spaniard a coveted tactician after his spell as an external analyst at the runaway Premier League champions.
Both UAE sides are convinced the ex-Real Sociedad and Almeria assistant can comfortably lead them to safety in next season’s 14-team, expanded top flight. Plus, apply an expansive style of football in the process.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club made contact earlier in the summer as they plan a refresh in the wake of a trying inaugural season. However, they are expected to imminently announce a deal for fellow Ittihad alumnus Jose Luis Sierra, 49, of Chile.
Bani Yas stormed to the First Division League’s title under Goran Tufegdzic, at the first time of asking following 2016/17’s painful relegation. The Serbian was then immediately dismissed as they targeted a bigger name for the coming season.
Another ex-Ittihad tactician in Romania’s Victor Piturca is also on the Sky Blues’ wanted list.
Caneda’s other UAE suitor, Emirates Club, came through a trying promotion/relegation play-off against the second tier’s Al Hamriyah earlier this month.
This tense 1-0 aggregate triumph guaranteed a sixth-successive season in the AGL. Syria’s Nizar Mahrous was drafted in during April as an emergency saviour for the second-bottom Falcons, but is not expected to remain in situ for 2018/19.
This has opened the door for Caneda in Ras Al Khaimah.
His last coaching stint was a fourth-month return to Nassr at the end of 2015/16. There, he led a side that had floundered under Italy icon Fabio Cannavaro to a 2-1 loss against Al Ahli Jeddah in the King’s Cup final.
Caneda had previously led the Riyadh heavyweights to 12 victories and one defeat from May 2014-October 2014, before severe internal problems forced his departure.
A similar tale had unfolded at Ittihad from February 2012-February 2013. A club-record 25-match unbeaten spell was achieved, prior to institutional issues causing his contract to be broken.
Meanwhile, promoted Fujairah have sealed the return of midfielder Humaid Ahmed from Al Jazira. Ahmed, 30, made just seven AGL appearances for the capital side after departing the Wolves after 2015/16’s relegation.
Matei, 25, is this summer’s first foreign addition by the First Division League’s runners-up. Their success last term under Iraq’s 2007 Asian Cup-winning coach Jorvan Vieira extended a lengthy period of instant promotions and relegations that stretches back to 2009/10.
To end this frustrating spell, a positive impact from the non-Emirati quartet will be key.
Matei arrives on the east coast after he scored four times in 13 matches on loan at Astra Giurgiu, who finished fifth in Romania’s Liga 1.
He had previously struck seven times in 52 games at Rijeka since arriving from the Ukrainian Premier League’s Volyn Lutsk. Italy’s Cesena, plus Romania’s Unirea Urziceni and Steaua Bucharest, also count among his previous employers.
Junior international caps were also won with his nation’s Under-17 (two) and U-19 (three) sides between 2010-11.
His latest side have secured a one-season contract extension with Vieira, 64, to lead them back into the top flight. The Brazilian took over in January and critically inspired a six-match winning run at the end of the season to pip Diego Maradona’s Fujairah to an automatic spot.
Kalba brought in Moroccan attackers Abderrahim Makran and Omar Mansouri on loan for the second half of the season. No announcement has been made about whether the pair will be retained.
Promoted Fujairah have announced the impressive capture of prolific Hatta attacking midfielder Fernando Gabriel.
Gabriel, 30, excelled last term despite the sorry Tornado finishing bottom of the Arabian Gulf League. He struck an outstanding 10 times in 16 top-flight matches and notched once against the – evidently impressed – Wolves in this month’s tense two-legged promotion/relegation play-off.
This stellar form led to a scramble for the Brazilian’s signature that also featured Sharjah and Dibba Al Fujairah. Superior financial terms tipped the balance towards the side who are preparing for their first campaign outside First Division League since 2015/16.
Fujairah previously inked a one-year deal for Al Shabab Riyadh forward Mohammed Benyettou. The Algerian had struck 22 times in 57 Saudi Professional League fixtures.
Argentine forward Danilo Carando and French midfielder Omar Kossoko are not expected to be retained in the four-player foreign quota.
No decision has been made yet about whether Dr Abdullah Misfer will lead them into the AGL. The ex-Dibba Al Fujairah, Al Dhafra and UAE Under-23 tactician took over from Diego Maradona after a saga about the Argentina 1986 World Cup-winner’s future that garnered global attention, leading them successfully through the play-offs.
The recruitment of Gabriel represents a significant step-up in quality. His 10 goals made him the highest-scoring midfielder for 2017/18.
Fujairah are the 18th club that the Eldorado-native has played for, across five different countries. Previous employers include Azerbaijan’s Khazar Lankaran, Iran’s Persepolis and Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisaly.