Al Nasr are set to secure their third Brazilian signing of the summer after they reportedly agreed a season’s loan for Corinthians attacking midfielder Marquinhos Gabriel.
The Blue Wave have been busy in recent months modelling a foreign quartet to gain Arabian Gulf League glory. In addition to the eye-catching capture of France and Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye, they’ve also procured forward Samuel Rosa from relegated Hatta and striker Iury from Ukraine’s Zorya Luhansk.
ESPN Brasil have reported that 28-year-old Gabriel will soon be added to this list. A temporary switch, with a $4 million permanent option, has been agreed and the attacker has been granted permission to travel to Dubai for a medical.
This will be his second experience in the Middle East after a mixed spell at Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr from 2014-16. In 2018, Gabriel has scored once in 21 matches for his current employers.
Last term’s fourth-placed finishers in the UAE have also made significant domestic moves.
UAE internationals Habib Fardan – who represented the Blue Wave with distinction from 2008-14 – and Mohammed Marzooq have arrived from Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club.
Further deals have been agreed for Al Jazira centre-back Mohammed Ali Ayed, Emirates Club midfielder Al Hussain Saleh and promising Al Wahda forward Mohamed Al Akbari.
Meanwhile, promoted Ittihad Kalba have gambled on the fitness of Nigeria’s box-to-box midfielder Raheem Lawal to complete their non-Emirati contingent.
Lawal, 28, suffered regular fitness problems when Osmanlispor were relegated from Turkey’s Super Lig in 2017/18.
Rijeka midfielder Florentin Matei, Tigres UANL anchorman Alan Santos and Puskas Academia striker Antonio Perosevic have all been previously drafted in by the yo-yo outfit.
The brilliant Brazilian has shone during four Arabian Gulf League campaigns with the Cheetahs – he was named the league’s best foreign player two seasons ago and was again on the three-man shortlist this year, only to be beaten by Al Wahda hitman Sebastian Tagliabue.
Speculation over the player’s future has been constant in the last 12 months, with both domestic and foreign rivals keen to prise the playmaker away from Zabeel Stadium – with De Lima linked with a Dh75-100m (£16-21m) move away.
Saudi Arabia duo Al Hilal and Al Nassr both retain a keen interest in De Lima, with reports in the Arabic press this week suggesting Wasl had agreed a deal to sell their star man to Nassr.
But the club denied reports as pure rumour, with De Lima having signed a contract extension last December that runs until 2022.
“Al Wasl confirms the incorrect news reported in the media and social networking on the club ‘s approval of the transfer of Fabio Lima, and that the player will remain with the team,” they said in a statement on Twitter.
تؤكد شركة #الوصل عدم صحة الأنباء التي ترددت في وسائل الإعلام والتواصل الاجتماعي بشأن موافقة النادي على انتقال فابيو ليما، وأن اللاعب باق مع الفريق ولا نية على الإطلاق للاستغناء عن خدماته لأي فريق محلي أو أجنبي كونه أحد ركائز الفريق الأساسية، وأن عقده ممتد مع النادي حتى عام 2022 pic.twitter.com/oIiZ4gJYGs— Al Wasl SC (@AlWaslSC) 16 August 2018
“The club have no intention whatsoever to dispense with his services for any local or foreign team, being one of the pillars of the core team, and his contract extended with the club until 2022.
“We call upon everyone to investigate the accuracy and truthfulness with published data or news related to the club and its staff in this important period.
“The company emphasises that the only body authorised to talk about the club and the news is the official spokesman or media club office or chairman of the board only.”
As it stands, Wasl will have an even stronger South American flavour to their foreign ranks this season, with De Lima’s namesake Vinicius Morreira de Lima joining earlier this summer on a season-long loan from Gremio.
The 22-year-old, who also had loan spells with Mallorca and Ceara, will fit in alongside retained Brazilians Caio Canedo, Ronaldo Mendes and De Lima, replacing Australian loanee Anthony Caceres.
Lima is new Wasl coach Gustavo Quinteros’ first signing since replacing fellow Argentine Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
De Lima could miss the beginning of the new season after undergoing minor knee surgery several weeks ago.
The UAE Under-23s must show all their “enthusiasm, seriousness and desire” to get the big win against minnows Timor-Leste that will ignite hopes of advancement at the 2018 Asian Games.
Maciej Skorza’s men opened up on Tuesday in Group C with a disheartening 1-0 loss to Syria. They created few chances at Indonesia’s empty Jalak Harupat Stadium and were deservedly punished by striker Abd Al Rahman Barakat’s second-half header, via goalkeeper Mohamed Al Shamsi’s flimsy attempt at a save.
China smashed Timor 6-0 and a second-successive heavy defeat must be inflicted on the tiny Southeast Asian island nation to boost odds of progression from Sunday’s decider.
“This match is very important for the UAE, where we must win to compete for one of the qualifying cards to the second round,” said Poland’s Skorza. “My confidence is high that the players will play better than the last game and achieve a positive result.
“Each match has different circumstances. Just because Timor-Leste suffered a big defeat in the previous game, it does not mean it will be easy against them.
“We must deal with this game with all our enthusiasm, seriousness and desire to get the three points. This will maintain our fortunes ahead of the final game against China on Sunday.”
This age group has shown worrying degradation in recent years. Skorza’s predecessors failed to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics and 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.
Dinamo Zagreb loanee Ali Eid revealed the pressure of a winless, three-match run – the last two warm-ups featured a bad-tempered 2-0 defeat to Malaysia and 1-0 reversal to Saudi Arabia – was being felt by the squad.
He said: “The confrontation with Timor-Leste is an opportunity to restore confidence for ourselves, especially since we did not win in the last three confrontations – whether friendly or official matches.”
The UAE won silver in the 2010 edition and were knocked out in the quarter-finals four years ago. In 2002 and 2006, they were eliminated in the groups.