Arabian Gulf League title challengers Al Jazira are set to announce rising UAE star Khalfan Mubarak has inked a new contract, disappointing suitors such as champions Al Ain who hoped to swoop him up on a free this summer.
Mubarak, 23, moved within the last six months of his current deal in January. This gave hope to teams across the top flight that they could snaffle, for a bargain arrangement, one of the Whites’ best performers at Asian Cup 2019 and the top flight’s current leading assist maker with 10 recorded in 13 run-outs.
Pictures, however, emerged on social media late on Tuesday that the former Al Ahli youth player had put pen to paper on fresh terms. Sources at the Pride of Abu Dhabi expected a multi-year arrangement to be officially revealed in the coming days.
The diminutive playmaker started all three Group A matches for the hosts at the ongoing continental tournament. He was brought off early on during the disappointing 1-1 draw with Bahrain on January 5’s opening night, but produced a stunning solo goal to open the scoring last week in the 2-0 victory against India.
A facial injury picked up in that clash threatened his participation on Monday against Thailand. Mubarak, however, performed well in 84 minutes on the park prior to veteran Ismail Matar’s introduction to the fray in a 1-1 draw which helped secure top spot.
Mubarak was tipped as a successor to Omar Abdulrahman – the compatriot whose serious knee injury in October granted him access to the UAE’s XI for the Asian Cup – by then Ahli boss Quique Sanchez Flores in March 2013. But after making just one appearance for that club as an 18-year-old, he defected to the capital with Jazira.
At Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, he’s won the 2015/16 President’s Cup and 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League.
In total, he’s scored 15 times in 79 top-flight games.
Former France midfielder Yohan Cabaye’s time in the Arabian Gulf League was officially brought to a surprisingly premature end on Sunday when Al Nasr announced he was part of a trio of foreign starts who’d been let go.
Cabaye, 32, signed a two-year deal in July once he’d decided to pursue a “different challenge” away from the Premier League’s Crystal Palace.
But the Blue Wave’s woeful first half of the campaign – they sit ninth, just six points off the relegation zone at the winter break – and the addition of new Spanish coach Benat San Jose has seen them move in a different direction. The ex-Lille, Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain star scored twice in 19 appearances across all competitions.
Loans for Corinthians winger Junior Dutra and Al Fayha forward Ronnie Fernandez have been secured in the last seven days, with Lebanon centre-back Joan Oumari set to be reinstated in the four-player foreign quota now his temporary contract at Japan’s Sagan Tosu has expired. Cabaye is joined through the exit door by fellow summer additions Samuel Rosa and Marquinhos Gabriel.
“Al Nasr dispense with the services of the Cabaye, Rosa and Marquinhos and thanks the three players for the period when they wore the club’s shirt,” they tweeted.
The only non-Emirati to be retained is former Spain and Real Madrid striker Alvaro Negredo. This follows an impressive nine goals in 11 top-flight matches since his procurement in September from Turkey’s Besiktas.
For Cabaye, he started each of Nasr’s four AGL losses at the start of 2018/19. But he’d began to exert his quality, prior to the hiccup of his red card in the 1-0 President’s Cup, round of 16 triumph against Bani Yas on December.
The Blue Wave are now pinning their hopes on their latest additions.
Versatile Chilean attacker Fernandez played under San Jose at Bolivia’s Club Bolivar in 2016/17. Since he moved to Saudi Arabia’s Al Fayha, he’s netted 16 times in 39 top-flight outings.
Dutra spent 2014-16 with Qatar’s Al Arabi. His previous loan away from Corinthians saw him go goalless in 18 run-outs for Fluminense.
New Al Wasl coach Laurentiu Reghecampf has vowed to drag the surprise Arabian Gulf League strugglers “out of their crisis” and back to the good times.
Reghecampf, 43, has taken over a side that finished third last term under Rodolfo Arruabarrena, but find themselves one place and two points above the drop zone at the winter break. Ex-Bolivia international Gustavo Quinteros was sacked on October 20 and caretaker boss Hassan Al Abdouli could not correct their alarming descent prior to stepping aside late last month.
This means a steep task awaits the former Romania midfielder, who was only sacked by Al Wahda – with whom he won the President’s Cup, Arabian Gulf Cup and finished second in 2017/18 – during November.
“I am very happy to take over the task of training Al Wasl,” said the Romanian, whose inked a renewable six-month deal.
“I refuse to talk about the other offers I received, it is my pleasure in choosing to train Wasl and my desire is to work with the players as soon as possible to get the team out of their crisis in the Arabian Gulf League.
“I am not concerned about the pressures that will come in the next period as I like to work under pressure.
“The current status of Wasl is just a passing phase and we will return to the status that suits us as one of the largest clubs in the UAE.”
No dates have been set yet for second half of the campaign.