Omar Abdulrahman's performances at the Asian Cup have gained him even more admirers.
His current deal with Al Ain expires in the summer, with no new deal on the horizon. However, with many of Europe's clubs stepping up to show an interest in the star midfielder, money will be a serious impediment to any deal.
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Will Omar Abdulrahman leave the Arabian Gulf League?
James Piercy, deputy editor, says YES
The time has surely come for Omar Abdulrahman to move on to pastures new.
It’s well-known among Europe’s leading clubs that he has been the most talented player in the Gulf for some time now. However, domestic football in this region can often fly under the radar with misplaced stereotypes of a poor standard, both technically and tactically, often ruling any bright talent irrelevant.
But the Asian Cup has meant any secret surrounding his ability is finally out and a performance against Australia on Tuesday will surely see him named Player of the Tournament.
How he copes with the physical Australians could be a potential make or break 90 minutes for his future but his displays Down Under have already allayed many fears over his suitability for more prestigious surroundings than the Arabian Gulf League.
He is, without question, a special player. His first touch as easy on the eye as Luka Modric’s or Koke’s (two of the best technical midfielders in the world) and his ability to spot passes no one else can, a unique gift.
So far the issues over his continual presence have been as much with Al Ain’s unease about allowing the UAE’s prized asset to leave the country and Omar’s own reluctance, which is perfectly understandable.
But displays such as his, which have caught the wider imagination of the football world, cannot go unnoticed. When you factor in the marketability of owning a player from the Emirates, as many of Europe’s clubs look to the region for funding, suitors must be queuing up and sooner or later there will be too many for both Al Ain and Omar to resist.
He may not possess the requisite physicality for the Premier League but there are fine clubs, outside the established elite, in Spain, Germany and Italy where he would fit in perfectly.
At 23, Omar is a perfect age to move on and, from a symbolic standpoint, perhaps he and Al Ain will consider they almost owe it to Middle Eastern football to show off the region’s best to the world.
Matt Monaghan, reporter, says NO
Should Omar Abdulrahman leave for a European adventure? Absolutely. But will he? The answer, sadly, is no.
A number of factors are set to keep the Asian Cup’s star performer at Al Ain. The player is happy in a familiar environment,where he knows he is loved.
Abdulrahman’s background is well documented, born in Riyadh to a family of Yemeni origin. When Saudi Arabia would only offer a passport to this prodigious footballer rather than his entire family, his path was set to the UAE.
Abdulrahman has done a lot for his adopted country, but so has the Emirates for him.
This care extends to his finances, with Al Ain making sure their star performer is well renumerated. As with most Emiratis, he does not have an official agent as his club provides professional guidance.
Several well-placed sources have estimated when all sponsorship deals, bonuses, wages and provisions are taken into account that Abdulrahman could be taking home as much as €10 million (Dh41.2m) per annum.
For example, it is believed he was gifted a Bugatti Veyron supercar worth more than £1m (Dh5.5m) after playing a guiding role in the Whites’ 2013 Gulf Cup triumph.
Money is a serious impediment to any deal. Abdulrahman is unlikely to be handed such an amount by any European club looking to take a chance when such huge figures are involved.
The risk factor extends to his health. The last two seasons have been seriously interrupted by injury.
This term he has played only twice in the Arabian Gulf League. Such fallibility, when combined with the declining resources of proven European finishing schools such as Benfica and PSV Eindhoven, limit his options.
Abdulrahman’s current deal expires in the summer, with no new deal on the horizon. But speak to his club and international team-mates and they talk of a man happy in his current surroundings. He is going nowhere fast.