Keeping Caio and other Al Ain stars now 'especially' tough after Club World Cup success

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Al Ain’s stellar Club World Cup-performance has produced the unavoidable side effect that it is now “especially” difficult to keep breakout stars like lively Brazilian forward Caio, according to coach Zoran Mamic.

The Boss defied expectations to defeat Copa Libertadores holders River Plate and seal a historic final meeting with Real Madrid. A 4-1 defeat was incurred on Saturday night, but this does not dampen the mood surrounding the club.

Coveted Porto and Benfica target-Caio was awarded the Silver Ball as the tournament’s second-best player – behind only Gareth Bale – and can sign as a free agent with foreign teams from January 1, when he moves inside the final six months of his deal.

“It is true we have some problems, as some players come within the last six months [of their contracts],” said Mamic at Zayed Sports City. “It will be especially hard to keep Caio.

“He can now sign for free. I hope Al Ain finds a way to keep him.

“It will be a big loss to lose him.”

Egypt midfielder Hussein El Shahat was exceptional in the 3-0 quarter-final triumph against Esperance de Tunis, then forced Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos to clear off the line when the score was goalless in the weekend’s showpiece.

He has been consistently linked with a move to Cairo giants Al Ahly. This link, however, does not appear to have legs.

Mamic said: “I think with all respect to Al Ahly, they don’t have the money to buy El Shahat. It must be something incredible.”

Mamic has worked wonders since his February 2017 arrival from Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr. A club-first Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup double was claimed last term, prior to this revelatory month in the CWC.

Before then, he’d spent three successful years in charge of Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb. When asked whether a switch back to Europe appeals, he answered: “In the future, you never know. For each coach, it is a dream to come to a bigger league.

“I was a player in Germany for nine years. Maybe one day, it’ll become something.”

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