UAE Football Association will 'not hesitate' to support Sebastian Tagliabue naturalisation

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(Pro League Committee).

The UAE Football Association will “not hesitate” to support the naturalisation of prolific Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue if this is desired, according to secretary general Mohammed Abdullah Hazzam Al Dhaheri.

The Arabian Gulf League’s record foreign goal scorer – with 113 strikes in 114 matches for the Clarets – responded last week it would “be my pleasure to play for the UAE if it becomes possible” when quizzed about widespread reports he would be called up by January 2019’s Asian Cup hosts.  The uncapped Argentine, 33, became eligible this summer under FIFA rules, as he has been a constant resident since being purchased from Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab Riyadh during June 2013.

Responding to questions about this issue at Tuesday night’s National Teams and Technical Affairs Committee meeting, Al Dhaheri responded: “The UAE Football Association is not able to grant citizenship, but we do not hesitate to support the team about any player that meets the conditions and criteria and is chosen by the technical staff of the team.”

If the Tagliabue process is expedited, coach Alberto Zaccheroni could select him for October 11’s meeting with Barcelona and Venezuela on October 16 in Barcelona.

Comments by Al Ain boss Zoran Mamic about ill-prepared and out-of-shape returning Whites players also engendered a sharp response.

“The statements made by Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic about the lack of happiness of his players during the national camp and the drop in their level during the league matches after their absence from his camps were not accurate,” said Al Dhaheri.

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Emirates Club pull off transfer coup with deal for prolific Serie A scorer Cheick Diabate

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Arabian Gulf League strugglers Emirates Club have pulled off one of the biggest transfer coups in their history with the capture of Cheick Diabate, a prolific scorer in last term’s Serie A.

Diabate, 30, rocketed in eight goals during 11 matches at bottom-placed Benevento – including a brace against champions Juventus – during a half season on loan from Turkey’s Osmanlispor.  This sensational run of form by the towering Mali centre forward, however, did not lead to a switch within Europe prior to most transfer windows closing at the start of September.

He has now headed to Ras Al Khaimah to join perennial relegation battlers. His new employers required a play-off to survive in 2017/18 and have scored just once when losing both top-flight fixtures this campaign.

The Falcons’ new-look foreign quartet already included JS Kairouan defensive midfielder Aboubacar Sylla, Ajman playmaker Bakary Kone and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Bernie Ibini-Isei.

New coach Jalel Kadri of Tunisia will need to engineer a profitable link-up with the latter-mentioned Australia international. This will be key to their survival hopes, as they seek to extend their AGL stay into a seventh campaign.

Diabite came through the youth system at Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux, for whom he scored 66 times in 152 run-outs from 2006-16.

A move to the Super Lig with Osmanlispor did not work out and he helped Metz avoid relegation in 2016/17 with eight goals in 14 Ligue 1 appearances when on loan.

Another temporary switch to Benevento saw him excel in Italy, despite his side’s struggles.

His goal-scoring form was such that with six strikes in three games during April he equalled a long-standing Serie A-record held since 2001 by Piacenza striker Dario Hubner.

Links to Bologna and Genoa in Italy, plus Croatia’s Hadjuk Split, then surprisingly came to nothing in the summer.

The colossal attacker – who has netted 15 times in 39 internationals – should now make his AGL debut for the Falcons on Thursday at fellow minnows Dibba Al Fujairah.

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Former Man City striker Alvaro Negredo putting final touches on Al Nasr move from Besiktas

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Al Nasr are on the verge of making former Spain centre forward Alvaro Negredo this summer’s premier addition to the Arabian Gulf League.

Negredo, 33, was on Monday putting the final touches to the eye-catching switch after Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that a €1 million (Dh4.3m) transfer fee had been agreed with Super Lig giants Besiktas. He had departed for Dubai on Sunday and was not pictured with team-mates in Istanbul as they began preparations for Thursday’s Europa League, Group I-opener against Norway’s Sarpsborg.

The ex-Real Madrid, Sevilla, Manchester City and Valencia striker has been offered a gargantuan contract worth up to €7m (Dh30.1m) per season, according to AS. The deal – which should imminently go through, barring any last-minute hitches – represents an emphatic response by the Blue Wave after they surprisingly lost both opening top-flight fixtures.

Former France centre midfielder Yohan Cabaye had previously been the club’s major piece of business. The latest high-profile signing will replace Brazilian target man Iury de Castilho in the four-player foreign quota – he hasn’t impressed since being picked up from Ukraine’s Zorya Lugansk in June.

This will leave forward Samuel Rosa – formerly of relegated Hatta – and Corinthians loanee Marquinhos Gabriel under the control of under-pressure coach Ivan Jovanovic.

Negredo – nicknamed La fiera de Vallecas (the beast of Vallecas) – has been linked with a move away from Vodafone Park since 2017/18 ended with a disappointing fourth-placed finish. He rejected a move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr last month, while his demands caused A-League-outfit Sydney FC to pull out of the running at the same time.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, a return of three goals in four 2018/19 appearances points to a continued lethality.

In total, Negredo has struck 237 times in 582 club appearances.

The well-travelled front man began his career at minnows Rayo Vallecano, before being picked up by Real Madrid B. He would fail to make any La Liga appearance for the capital heavyweights even though he starred on loan at Almeria and was sold to Sevilla in 2009.

The most-productive spell of his career – 85 goals in 182 matches – saw him picked up by City for £16.4m (Dh90.2m) in July 2013. The next season’s Premier League and League Cup would follow, before he fell out of favour and returned to Spain with Valencia.

Negredo did not spark there or on loan at Middlesbrough – and Besiktas rescued him in August 2017. There he would score 18 goals in 46 run-outs.

The Beast was part of Spain’s victorious Euro 2012 squad. He has 10 strikes in 21 caps, his last call-up coming in March 2014.

Nasr will hope Negredo represents a vast improvement on the last superstar centre forward they bought. Italy’s Luca Toni scored just five times during 13 games in 2011/12’s miserable spell, prior to reinvigorating his career at Fiorentina and Hellas Verona.

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