UAE international defender Mohanad Salem looks set to leave Al Ain, with capital rivals Al Jazira and Bani Yas competing to secure his signing.
Salem, 29, has remained in the Emirates for negotiations while his team-mates have endured a weather-disrupted pre-season tour abroad.
Jazira are hot favourites to snap up the versatile defender, with his brother Mohammed currently employed by the Pride of Abu Dhabi as first-team manager.
The move would come as a surprise, with Salem starting 23 of Al Ain’s 26 Arabian Gulf League fixtures last term.
Team supervisor Mohammed Obeid Hammad insisted they are happy to keep the player if no agreement can be reached.
He said: “Mohanad is still associated with Al Ain and there are several offers for the player, but he soon will join the camp if nothing has developed during the negotiations.”
Meanwhile, Zlatko Dalic’s side were forced to make a hasty detour to Italy yesterday after thunderstorms washed out their training camp in Turkey.
The Boss had intended to practice in Erzurum from July 4-19, as their preparations for August’s AFC Champions League quarter-final tie with Al Ittihad continued. But unseasonally poor weather in the eastern part of the country have flooded the pitches.
“The period of the camp is short, and we are working to get out with the desired results,” Hammad said. “The rainfall affected the exercising fields in the region, because the pitch is located on a slope, and the administration decided to move the camp to Italy.
“We hope that the change is in the interest of the team because the time factor is important to us.”
Loan signing Miroslav Stoch passed a medical examination on Friday morning in Istanbul, with brothers Khalid and Mohammed Abdulrahman joining him in Italy after signing three-year contract extensions.
Stoch’s fellow new boy, South Korean midfielder Lee Myung-Joo, is also with the team in Europe.
The majority of Arabian Gulf League clubs may still be on their holidays, but Al Ain and Al Jazira have already provided champions Al Ahli with some serious food for thought.
Following a season that flattered to deceive Jazira have acted quickly and decisively to ensure that their title challenge will be maintained.
Walter Zenga was ditched in favour of Eric Gerets, while after a dismal four months Felipe Caicedo has been told to look for new employers – swift decisions that outline the club’s desire to add to their solitary league title.
To that you can now add the double capture of Mirko Vucinic and Jonathan Pitroipa, one of the most exciting swoops in UAE football history.
Yet, while Vucinic and his reported €5 million (Dh25m) a season wages will attract most of the column inches, it is his new team-mate from Burkina Faso that should provide the greater value for money.
Pitroipa has the pace and skill to worry any defence, while at 28 he still has something to prove – especially following a disappointing season with Rennes.
Another player with his peak years in front of him is Miroslav Stoch, and the Al Ain loan signing too could emerge as an extremely shrewd signing.
The Boss have been crying out for width and pace for a while now, and although something has obviously gone wrong for Stoch in Turkey, that conversely makes him exactly the sort of player that a side with amibition in the UAE should be signing. He has bucket loads of ability but also a reason to put in 100 per cent on the pitch.
He may not stay in the Middle East long term, but the only way he is going to get back to Europe is by playing well. That has to be better than signing a 30-something whose only concern is his bank balance.
Having already bought Lee Myung- joo – and with another signing on the way – Al Ain have shown their desire to succeed at home and abroad.
Ahli’s chances of keeping them at bay will depend heavily on how they react to this game of chance in the transfer market.
Al Ain appear to have hit a brick wall in their attempts to offload Brazilian flop Michel Bastos – with Roma turning down the opportunity to sign the winger permanently.
Bastos spent the second half of last season on loan at the Italian club, and the Boss had been hopeful that the Serie A giants would exercise their right to buy the 30-year-old outright.
However, despite offering the former Brazil international to Roma for a fraction of the €3.5 million (Dh17.5m) option in his initial loan, their interest has cooled.
Three Brazilian clubs have made their interest in Bastos known, but as yet none have made a concrete offer for the former Lyon man.
With his future clearly lying away from the Garden City, Bastos has not reported for pre-season training and did not travel to Turkey with the rest of the squad for a two-week training camp on Friday.
Jires Kembo Ekoko, another player whose future is less than certain, did travel with the 29-man party, but Ghana star Asamoah Gyan has been given an extended holiday following his exertions at the World Cup in Brazil.
Al Ain’s players, and coach Zlatko Dalic, will meet new signing Miroslav Stoch for the first time in Turkey after he completed his one-year loan from Fenerbahce on Thursday.
Stoch joins Al Ain from the Turkish club having spent last season on loan in Greece with PAOK, and Dalic hinted that the former Chelsea man would not be the final arrival this summer.
“We need to improve our elements and Miroslav is an outstanding player,” he said.
“We look forward over the coming period to bring in an excellent player as we should be careful in choosing the foreigners as there are many names that want to come to Al Ain, but we look forward to choosing the best.”
Dalic also paid tribute to Gyan, who became the highest scoring African at World Cups with two goals in Brazil.
“I would like to congratulate Gyan for the magnificent form shown with his national team in the World Cup,” he said.