West Bromwich Albion have strengthened their defence by bringing in Egyptian defender Ali Gabr on loan until the end of the season.
The 29-year-old moves from Zamalek and will now team up with compatriot Ahmed Hegazi in the Baggies backline.
“I’m here to help the team and do my job. I’m very happy and excited to be here,” he told the club website.
The deal could be made permanent if Gabr impresses and technical director Nick Hammond is delighted with the latest recruit having kept tabs on the defender during the African Cup of Nations.
“He’s a player that we first identified at the African Cup of Nations where he played alongside Ahmed,” he said.
“We’ve continued to follow his progress since then and saw a good opportunity to do a deal in this window.
“The structure is the same as for Ahmed – it’s a well-structured deal for the club. Ali is strong, dominant in the air and he’s got good pace as well. This is a great opportunity for him and we’re delighted to have him here.”
West Brom are 19th in the Premier League with one win in their last five matches.
Former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard has voiced his concern over young players who “flash their money” on social media.
Lampard, who is to be honoured with the Legends of football award later this year, thinks players should show restraint.
He is also worried that his daughters Luna and Isla, aged 12 and 10, spend too much time online and that results in them becoming “more detached” from everyday life.
Speaking on The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live, Lampard said: “I think there are always questions about money, and I understand the money one, particularly in the current climate. So I think as a player you have to respectfully not flash that, and show humility more than anything, and I think most players do do that.
“But I don’t like seeing young players that flash their money, and the world of social media has kind of maybe encouraged that. And if I had a son, I would advise them to be very careful what they put out on social media as that can be a trap. And if you’re loose with it, it’s certainly something that come back on you.”
Lampard, who is married to TV presenter Christine Lampard, is similarly wary of the time his daughters spend on their iPads.
He added: “I find it challenging…. Social media for me is so different to what I grew up with. And it starts so young. So you’re caught between trying to protect them and maybe not throw them into the world; but when all their friends are on social media, then of course as a father you try and take baby steps and manage it as you go.
“Your daughters or sons can spend time on iPads, on social media and get away from the basics of reading a book and things like that, because I sense a difference in my daughters sometimes when they do overspend time on iPads, etc.
“I just can find them sometimes more detached. Maybe it’s because they get stuck in a different world. I do think with my daughters, sometimes they kind of have lost a bit of focus, and maybe (I) have to bring them back into the real world.”
Lampard also expressed his pride at winning the honour from Legends of football, which raises money for the music charity Nordoff Robbins.
The 39-year-old, who will receive the award in October, said: “Football itself is so huge, so in terms of awareness, what you can bring to the table by getting involved with these charities is huge. And I think it’s a responsibility, because we play, everyone sees you playing, but then the other things that you do to give back, and charity is a huge part of that.”
Think of Nemanja Vidic and images emerge of the consummate warrior footballer.
A centre-back par excellence whose reputation was iron-cast throughout 300 uncompromising appearances for Manchester United from 2006-14. The perfect foil for the elegant Rio Ferdinand and rock upon which the grandest era in Red Devils’ history was built.
This combination of teak toughness, raw physicality and innate defensive acumen make Vidic a legend of the Old Trafford terraces. Those supporters – who still bellow the “Nemanja, oh oh oh oh” chant – remember him diving, headfirst, at the feet of Emmanuel Adebayor as the Arsenal striker struck a ferocious goal-bound volley in 2009.
They cherish his defiance in the driving rain of Moscow during the 2007/08 Champions League final and even the ridiculous attempt to block the ball with his head while on the ground against Swansea in 2012/13’s last, victorious season under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Their former captain spilled blood for the Red Devils cause until the very end. A flailing elbow from Rickie Lambert did damage on the south coast as he signed off with a 1-1 draw at Southampton, prior to an unfulfilling stint at Serie A’s Internazionale which ended with premature retirement aged 34 in January 2016.
Yet there is another, more sedate life outside the gladiatorial arena of elite football.
“I retired two years ago and I did not touch the ball for nearly two years,” Vidic tells Sport360° while in Dubai to hand over the latest adidas “Cold Blooded” boot pack to the city’s adidas Tango League Captains. “I played one testimonial for Michael Carrick [in June 2017] and that is it.
“I like sports without the contact now. I had enough in my career, a lot of head knocks, concussions, so I like more elegant sports now.
“I am doing some interviews, socialising with people, doing some travelling, doing pro-licence course and, every now and then, ambassadorial work for Manchester United.
“I am doing the things I could not do when I was a football player. Enjoying my life, spending time with my family, learning to play golf, skiing.
“I have had an exciting few years. I do not think about the work, I am enjoying my life.”
Vidic’s heyday can seem a lifetime ago at United. An unfitting final campaign was provided by 2013/14’s David Moyes debacle, with the eccentric and dogmatic ex-Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal not subsequently faring much better.
Signs of a renaissance, although filtered through a pragmatist’s prism, have been witnessed under Jose Mourinho – one of the main protagonists of the Chelsea v United rivalry which defined Vidic’s glorious stint in England. Does the ex-Serbia star ever regret not working under the ‘Special One’?
The 36-year-old replies: “He is a top manager. Obviously, I never worked with him.
“But I did work with Sir Alex Ferguson. So, that isn’t bad.”
An understated way of describing, arguably, the greatest manager in football’s annals. The Scot’s penchant for revolution and eye for evolution ensued almost-continual success throughout 26 years in the Old Trafford hot seat.
His eye for a player was legendary. Just £7 million (Dh50.5m) bought Vidic from Spartak Moscow in December 2006 – he made a major contribution to 15 trophy successes.
What made Ferguson so special?
“There are many things, not just one,” says Vidic. “He had to have the knowledge, leadership skills, how you treat the people, creating the environment where the players work to give the best for the club.
“Every player who played under him, I think they give 120 per cent. Not many managers did that.
“His qualities are being honest, direct, he’d give you support and responsibility. He asked you to do the things you can do, not what you cannot do.
“That is the biggest criticism of some managers. They try and teach you something you cannot do.”
Even great men have their faults, however.
Vidic says: “There are a lot of good memories to share. He liked to joke, as well.
“But when he joked, with his Scottish accent, I didn’t understand.
“I thought that I had to smile, even if I didn’t understand.”
January’s events have improved the mood in the red half of Manchester. City were dramatically usurped in the race to sign Arsenal wizard Alexis Sanchez, while Mourinho inked fresh term until at least 2020.
A distant second place in the Premier League is United’s preserve at present. Can continental competition – La Liga’s Sevilla are up next in the round of 16 – bring elation?
“For Manchester United, they are always looking for the trophies,” Vidic says.
“I believe Jose Mourinho, with the way he manages and history at other clubs, he always does well in Europe. Last year, we won the Europa League.
“With the way we’ve played this year, I think we have a chance to challenge for the Champions League.”
The spoils of hard-earned glory are now Vidic’s to enjoy. But a new apathetic attitude to playing football does not take away from his gratitude for what the sport gave him, and continued lessons it can bring.
“I have three kids, so all three play football,” says Vidic of the importance of grassroots. “It is important not just for people who will be professionals, but it is important for the young kids to be in groups, learn to socialise and be responsible.”
A combative past and a communal present. Retirement has brought out the nuances in Vidic, a competitor few will forget at Old Trafford and beyond.