Al Ain superstar Omar Abdulrahman has ended speculation he could depart the UAE after making the surprise announcement he had signed a renewal to his rapidly-expiring contract.
Abdulrahman, 23, took to Twitter last night to reveal he had agreed to extend his stay with the Boss for an unspecified amount of years.
The playmaker had entered the last six months of the deal inked in May 2011, leaving him open to negotiating a free-transfer summer exit to a host of interested foreign clubs.
“With thanks to God and from His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, my contract with Al Ain has been renewed,” he tweeted. “I will work with my colleagues to make our loyal fans happy.”
Speculation had grown about his destiny after lighting up January’s Asian Cup, being one of the players of the tournament during the Whites’ enlivening run to third place.
Those awe-inspiring displays had seen a number of Europe-based agents attempting to gain influence with him.
A swift end to the rumours was sought by Abdulrahman and the club’s hierarchy upon his return from Australia three weeks ago, high-level talks between the 32-times capped international and senior vice-president H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan reaching a successful conclusion.
News of the agreement came as a shock to all but those inside the inner circle between Abdulrahman’s family and Sheikh Hazza with the middle years of his outstanding career now set to be spent in the Middle East rather than football’s traditional heartland to the west.
With no official confirmation coming from management, Al Ain were not able to provide an official press release but the deal is secure.
Boss coach Zlatko Dalic was delighted by the news.
“It is great for our club and fans, but most of all Omar,” he told Sport360. “He is the talisman of our club.
“It was the best decision for him, at this stage of his career, to conti-nue playing his football here. He will now be clear in his head about his future and there will be no speculation in the summer.”
Abdulrahman has hinted about a desire for a new challenge previously but unlike Al Jazira’s Asian Cup top-scoring striker Ali Mabkhout, has not recently agitated for one.
He has been linked repeatedly with a move abroad since starring at the London 2012 Olympics.
Red tape prevented a move to Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City in the aftermath, a switch to Portuguese giants Benfica – among others – since being spurned.
The playmaker has no official representation despite the efforts of a number of leading figures, meaning all official business is done through the club.
He is understood to lean on his father and other family members for career advice.
Abdulrahman has endured an injury-plagued two years, his latest knock picked up two weeks ago making him a serious doubt for Tuesday’s AFC Champions League opener against Al Shabab Riyadh.
An excitable and sizable crowd streamed into Zabeel Stadium to see the Bur Dubai honours contested between Al Wasl and Al Nasr on Friday night. The yellow contingent left the packed arena elated, a brace from man-of-the-moment Fabio de Lima salvaging a 2-2 draw during a contest that burst into life at the death.
The 21-year-old Brazilian looked to have had his thunder stolen by Ibrahima Toure after opening the scoring three minutes into the second half. The Senegal international stood up to strike a late double that put the boisterous Blue Wave travelling support – all too briefly – into rapture.
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A week on from being the inspiration behind the 4-0 thumping of Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ahli, Fabio was the man in the right place in injury time to nod in a leveller from close range to save the day for the hosts.
An unseasonably warm evening did not prove conducive to producing flowing football, a day-long sandstorm cloaking the city and trapping in the draining desert heat. Watching former Chelsea defender Dan Pestrscu – linked previously to AGL coaching jobs – would not have been roused until the breathless final moments.
Both will need to find an extra gear if they are to threaten a late run into the AFC Champions League qualification spots.
It took until the 40th-minue of a tense first half featuring deep defensive lines and few willing runners for a clear chance to emerge. Squat Cheetahs forward Ederson Alves was the man in question, inches too small to head in his 10th goal of the campaign.
He turned provider three minutes after the interval, his low cross slid home by countryman Fabio.
Nasr only came alive after the 70th-minute mark. Delightful Spain winger Pablo Hernandez used smart feet to create space, only for his low effort to disappoint.
His class, however, was all over Toure’s 77th-minute breakthrough. A deft header played the Senegal striker in, characteristic composure seeing him slot home a ninth top-flight strike of the campaign.
A 10th followed soon after, the 29-year-old racing clear down the right to slot through goalkeeper Yousif Abdulla’s legs.
The gloating Nasr support was soon quietened. A deep cross picked out Ederson, heading back for compatriot Fabio to bundle home.
The Pro League Committee is welcoming applications from young and motivated Emiratis, who wish to utilise their organisational skills and pursue their passion for football by becoming PLC Match Officials for the 2015/16 season.
With the online application window opening on Thursday 19thFebruary 2015, candidates are encouraged to submit an application form and CV via the official AGLeague website to register their desire to become a Match Commissioner, Access Control Officer or Media Officer with the PLC.
Tasked with the organisation and operation of Arabian Gulf League, Arabian Gulf Cup, Arabian Gulf Super Cup and U21 League matches, the PLC encourages applicants who fit the bill to join the UAE football family and bring their skills and dedication to all Pro League Committee competitions.
Speaking about the initiative to encourage new volunteers to join the PLC Match Officials team, CEO Suhail Al Areefi said: "We are aiming to involve as many young Emiratis in the organisation of PLC matches, and we will provide workshops and training in order to prepare them for the responsibilities of the roles, before assessing their capabilities and determining their readiness to assume PLC Match Official duties".
Link to submit the application here.