Asia Angle: Players who could be moving in and out of Asia

John Duerden 23/06/2015
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(L-R) Could Drogba or Robinho move to the region? Will Al Soma leave?

It's the height of summer and for football that means that transfer rumours and news are coming thicker and faster than a Dubai sandstorm. 

– #360view: Simeone quietly building elite Atletico squad

– #360business: Premier League comes to terms with FFP

– La Liga: Joan Laporta vows to end Qatar Airways deal
– #360transfers: Martinez chooses Atleti over AC Milan

Here, Sport 360 looks at five players that could be heading to, and away from, Asian clubs over the coming months.

Potential Ins

Didier Drogba (free agent) – The legendary Chelsea striker is currently a free agent and, while the United States is seen as a likelier move, there is interest from some of West Asia's biggest clubs. The Ivorian had a torrid six months in Asia with Shanghai Shenhua in 2012-13, but that is unlikely to detract potential suitors in the region. Even at 37, Drogba would still terrify defenders on the continent.

Jon Obi Mikel (Chelsea, England) – The out of favour Chelsea midfielder is only 28 and there are already rumours that he could be heading to these parts. The Nigerian recently followed Al Ain on twitter, leading many media outlets to assume that talks were taking place with some jumping the gun and claiming that terms had been agreed between the club and player. Al Ain have since played down those reports but other clubs in the AGL retain an interest.  

Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid, Spain) – Rodriguez is  currently busy with Uruguay at the Copa America but reports in South America and West Asia have suggested a move to Al Nasr could be on the horizon. The Dubai club has admitted their interest in the 29-year-old winger who boasts a wealth of experience both in South America and Europe, having played for illustrious clubs such as Porto, PSG, Benfica and, currently, Atletico Madrid. Failed loan spells in Serie A with Parma and Brazil at Gremio may see the lure of a permanent deal in the Middle East too much to resist.

Robinho (AC Milan, Italy) – One-time most expensive player in Britain, the Brazilian has struggled to fulfil his immense since leaving Real Madrid in 2010. The AC Milan forward is currently on-loan at boyhood club Santos and has been linked with a move to Bani Yas. Fans will have to wait until five time world champions Brazil finish their Copa America duties for clarity on his future and any move to the UAE would be huge for the AGL.

Yun Il-lok (FC Seoul, South Korea) – The 23 year-old broke into the national team in 2013 and initially  impressed but the clever forward is cursed by inconsistency. On his day, he can be devastating but it doesn't come often enough. A move may just be what the doctor ordered and there has been reported interest from the United States and Qatar. He could prove a very interesting signing.

Potential Outs

Nam Tae-hee (Lekhwiya, Qatar) -The South Korean has impressed in Qatar since joining Lekhwiya in 2012 and while the attacking midfielder has not quite become an automatic starter for his country, he is now a regular member of the squad. There is growing interest in the 23 year-old in Europe and China and the departure of Michael Laudrup as coach will not help Lekwhiya’s cause in retaining their star man.

Omar Al Soma (Al Ahli, Saudi Arabia) – The powerful Syrian striker almost joined former European champions, Nottingham Forest back in 2012 but struggled with work permit issues. Since then, the 26-year-old has been scoring for fun in Saudi Arabia, ending the season as top-scorer in the Pro League with 22 goals. This has sparked interest from French and Belgian clubs and the time seems right for Soma to make the move to Europe and test himself against bigger and better opposition.

Humam Tariq (Al Ahli, UAE) – The teenage Iraqi star ended his loan spell with Al Dhafra earlier this month and could be on his way to Turkey. Bursapor finished sixth in the league last season and could be a good move for the talented 18 year-old midfielder and a platform for bigger and better things. Tariq, a star in his home country, will struggle for playing time at Al Ahli with the club set on completing their foreign quota of players with some much needed firepower up front.

Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan, Iran) – A versatile player who can do a job at left-back or, preferably, further up the pitch, the 25-year-old showed as a teenager he had plenty of talent. Hajsafi has been linked to various European moves in the past but as he approaches his peak, there is a feeling that it is now or never. There has already been serious interest this summer from Bochum, a German club that has played host to Iranian legionnaires such as Vahid Hashemian in the past.

Hamza Al Dardour, (Al Khaleej, Saudi Arabia) – One of the brightest attacking talents in West Asia, the 24-year-old has quickly become Jordan's most potent threat. Authorities in the country have decided to try and get more of their stars playing in Europe and there are none better than this diminutive forward who buzzes behind defences and has an eye for goal. There has been talk of interest from Spain and while the top tier would be a tough nut to crack, it could be a great opportunity for Al Dardour.

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Reports claim that Diego Maradona is targetting top FIFA role

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Mr.President? Diego Maradona.

Diego Maradona is planning to succeed Sepp Blatter and stand for the FIFA presidency, according to reports in South America.

– Barca presidential candidate Laporta vows to sever ties with kit sponsor 
– Troubled Parma plummet into Italy’s amateur leagues
– USA and England book quarter-final places at Women’s World Cup

Maradona, 54, has been a fierce critic of Blatter’s, and the former Argentina captain and manager has now decided to stand himself for the position to be the most powerful man in world football, the Uruguayan broadcaster and writer Victor Hugo Morales has said.

Morales, famous for his commentary of Maradona’s astounding second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, said he had been authorised by Maradona to release the information.

Morales tweeted: “I called Diego Maradona to check on his father’s [health]. He told me that he would be a candidate for president of FIFA and that I was authorised to communicate it. I am a candidate: those were the words that DIEGO MARADONA replied when I consulted him for the nomination for the presidency of FIFA.”

In May, Maradona launched a scathing attack on Blatter saying: “Under Sepp Blatter, FIFA has become a disgrace and a painful embarrassment to those of us who care about football deeply.

“We have a dictator for life. I call Blatter ‘the man of ice’ because he lacks the inspiration and passion that are at the very heart of football. If this is the face of international football, we are in a very bad place.”

Another former player, Brazil’s Zico, has announced his candidacy as has the Liberia FA chairman Musa Bility. Most of those viewed as serious contenders are waiting until the July 20 decision on the date of the election before announcing whether to run.

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Neymar leaves Copa America as he serves four-match ban

niall 23/06/2015
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Barcelona and Brazil striker Neymar says "it would kill him from the inside" if he stayed and trained with the rest of the squad at the Copa America, as he serves a four-match ban.









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