Omar Abdulrahman verbally agrees Al Ain deal, ending Europe talk and boosting Al Hilal hopes

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UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman appears to have shut the door on a long-heralded move to Europe with belief growing he’s verbally agreed to renew his lapsed Al Ain contract for three more years.

Abdulrahman, 26, had attracted overtures from teams in France, Spain and the Netherlands as a free agent once his deal expired at the Boss in July. This came amid competing, and strong, interest from Saudi Professional League giants Al Hilal – his childhood club in Riyadh as a member of the Yemeni diaspora.

Aspirations about a historic permanent move to football’s traditional heartland, which began with 2012’s trial at Manchester City, look to have come to naught for the playmaker thanks to the weekend’s concurrence about fresh terms. This means the cost of a permanent transfer west will grow prohibitively large, once pen is put to paper – bar any unexpected late hitches.

It now remains to be seen whether widespread reports about an imminent one-season loan move to Hilal by the 2016 AFC Player of the Year come to fruition. The SPL holders are stated as having made an offer worth Dh21 million for 2018/19, a figure which capital rivals Al Nassr – who recently captured Nigeria forward Ahmed Musa from Leicester City – have exceeded by Dh3m.

Sources close to the player describe Hilal as “an option” and “the only Middle East club” he will go to.

A temporary move back to the city of his birth will deny Amoory the possibility of playing in December’s Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

In April, Boss chairman Ghanim Al Hajeri authoritatively stated his prized asset would be “staying with the club for next season, where we are faced with the most important of challenges.”

Abdulrahman has grown into a legend with the Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup holders since he joined their fabled academy in 2007.

In a decade with the first team, he’s scored 62 times and crafted 114 assists during 229 appearances. A total of 11 major honours have been won in this period.

A star role with the UAE at the London 2012 Olympics led to a successful trial at City. Work-permit issues then scuppered a first permanent move for an Emirati to Europe.

Valencia, Hamburg, Arsenal, Benfica and Fenerbahce are among the outfits to further be attached to his name. Al Ain rejected a loan offer from Nice in July 2017.

Those contacted this summer were prepared to produce offers, on the proviso Amoory remained a free agent.

Annual wages on the deal signed in February 2015 are estimated at Dh20m. European clubs would need to balloon this figure because of taxation, unless the player was prepared to make significant financial sacrifices.

Al Ain would now be in position to demand a substantial transfer fee, despite last term’s domestic and international travails.

This included being ostracised and banned for breaking curfew the night before January 5’s Gulf Cup-final loss to Oman, a match in which he missed decisive penalties at the end of normal time plus the shootout.

But throughout his spell in the Garden City, talk of an eventual return to Hilal have never dissipated.

The ascension of Turki Al Sheikh to the General Sports Authority’s chairmanship has led to an enormous injection of state cash into the national sport.

Hilal have used this largesse since the end of 2017/18 to attract esteemed ex-Sporting Lisbon coach Jorge Jesus, former Spain Under-21 defender Alberto Botia from Olympiacos and tie up a loan switch for Peru’s Benfica-owned forward Andre Carrillo.

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Transfer Predictor: Ante Rebic to Man United is a deal that could happen before deadline day

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The summer transfer window is in full swing, especially with Premier League clubs racing to get deals over the line before their August 9 deadline.

With the rumours growing in pace and volume during this ‘silly season’, it can be difficult and painstaking to separate the stories of some legitimacy from the rest of the noise.

Fortunately, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do it for you.

Below, you’ll find some of the latest transfer news churned out of the rumours broken down and analysed for your benefit along with our calculated predictions.

ANTE REBIC – EINTRACHT FRANKFURT TO MANCHESTER UNITED

Rebic was a key performer for Croatia at the World Cup.

One of Croatia’s World Cup stars, Ante Rebic, has revealed he has received “concrete offers” to make a big transfer this summer.

Why it will happen: Having had a super World Cup, Rebic’s market value is high and he would represent a significant coup for the Red Devils, who have long been interested in his signature. He could definitely add dynamism from midfield in which Jose Mourinho’s team have been lacking.

Why it won’t happen: It is very much touch-and-go over whether a deal could be brokered before this week’s deadline though.

Prediction: At €50million (Dh212m), in today’s market, Rebic is a snip but this prospective transfer will boil down to how quickly United can thrash out terms.

Rating: 7/10

RODRIGO – VALENCIA TO REAL MADRID

Los Che's star turn: Rodrigo.

Los Che’s star turn: Rodrigo.

Real Madrid will have to fork out at least €120million (Dh509m) to re-sign former hitman Rodrigo, Goal reports.

Why it will happen: Los Blancos are on the hunt for striking reinforcements and the 27-year-old would provide valuable support to main man Marco Asensio, young Brazilian star Vincius Junior and add to Karim Benzema’s experience.

Why it won’t happen: The former Real youth team star is a key player at the Mestalla and has a steep €120million (Dh509m) release clause which the Spanish capital club are unwilling to match.

Prediction: Expect, for now, Rodrigo to stay put at Los Che.

Rating: 4/10

STANISLAV LOBOTKA – CELTA VIGO TO TOTTENHAM

Premier League-bound? Lobotka.

Premier League-bound? Lobotka.

Tottenham could end a quiet summer transfer window on a high with the acquisition of Celta Vigo midfielder Stanislav Lobotka.

Why it will happen: Spurs have yet to strengthen in the market but the 23-year-old Slovak could boost numbers nicely in the engine room, particularly with reports stalwart Mousa Dembele is set to leave.

Why it won’t happen: It is unclear what funds Mauricio Pochettino has available to him given the efforts that have gone into getting the north London side’s new stadium ready for this coming season.

Prediction: Tottenham are in need of some reinforcements and Lobotka would be a boost.

Rating: 6/10

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Willian aware of Barcelona interest but wants to stay at Chelsea

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Brazilian midfielder wants Stamford Bridge stay.

Willian has pledged his commitment to Chelsea as the futures of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard remain in doubt.

Brazil playmaker Willian has been linked with summer moves to Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who, he says, made an official offer to sign him.

The 29-year-old says his five-year spell at Stamford Bridge is set to continue.

“I’m a Chelsea player,” Willian told ESPN Brasil.

“I always made it clear that what I wanted was to stay in the club.

“The only club I knew that really made an official offer for me was Barcelona.

“But I have my head here and I intend to continue in the club unless the club wants to sell me. But my head is here in the club.”

The futures of Courtois and Hazard are more uncertain.

Courtois has a year remaining on his contract and has been repeatedly linked with a move to Real Madrid. Chelsea risk losing him for a reduced fee in January or for free next summer.

Hazard, whose deal expires in 2020, has stalled over a new contract offer and has long been the subject of speculation over a move to Real.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri on Sunday, following the Community Shield loss to Manchester City at Wembley, said he would sanction Courtois’ departure if the goalkeeper expresses a desire to leave.

And Courtois reportedly stated his wish to the Italian on Monday.

The transfer window for incoming players to Premier League clubs closes this Thursday, so time is against Chelsea if they are to recruit any would-be replacements.

David Luiz has urged Courtois and Hazard to stay, while insisting the Blues have enough quality even if the pair leave.

“Chelsea wants for the best players to stay,” Luiz said.

“They know Chelsea a lot, so they know what they’ve had here, the fun they’ve had here. Everybody loves them and I hope they can stay.

“If they decide to leave, I think we will continue with fantastic players.”
Luiz knows what life is like away from Chelsea, having spent two seasons at Paris St Germain before returning to Stamford Bridge in August 2016.

He played a crucial role in Chelsea’s title triumph in Antonio Conte’s first season as head coach before injury and a rumoured fallout saw him sidelined.

He insists he never contemplated leaving Chelsea for a second time and is now keen to show he can be a key figure for Sarri’s Chelsea.

“I was just working and trying to do my best,” Luiz added.

“Everybody has the opportunity, you just have to show him character, physical quality, technical quality, so since the first day I’m trying to do that.”

Sarri has torn up Conte’s three-man defence, replacing it with a back four, in the three weeks since his appointment.

The 59-year-old Italian’s style has been likened to Pep Guardiola’s.

But while Manchester City afforded the Catalan time to adjust in his first season in England, there is precious little time for Sarri.

“I hope we can understand it quickly and can fight for all the titles,” Luiz added.

“When you play for a big club you have to be ready to try to fight for the titles, and we’re going to fight for that.”

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