Al Wahda have urged coveted attacker Yahya Al Ghassani to continue his development with the Abu Dhabi giants in the midst of talk linking him with a historic permanent move to Europe.
News broke over the weekend that several clubs are in negotiations with the Clarets regarding the exciting 21-year-old winger, with two unnamed teams in the Bundesliga and Premier League side Burnley cited as being in the running.
“It’s too early (to talk about a transfer). So far he’s our player,” said Wahda chairman Ahmed Al Rumaithi, speaking at a press conference in the capital on Monday to announce the signing of new coach Maurice Steijn – who takes over from fellow Dutchman Henk ten Cate.
“We have seen things in the media. Sometimes football agents make inappropriate statements to the media.
“I want to talk in general about Yahya and all the young players. They need to keep focusing on their level and the matches in our league here.
“Yahya didn’t play a lot of matches with this club. He still has two to three years to prove himself and then we can talk about playing outside (the UAE).
“Yahya or any other youngsters in the club should complete three to four years playing in the top flight before thinking of playing in Europe. Yahya has played just one season and that’s not ideal.”
Al Ghassani, born to an Emirati mother and a father who holds Tanzanian and Omani passports, joined Wahda at the beginning of last season on a one-year deal and instantly impressed.
He netted a debut goal in a 6-2 thrashing of Ittihad Kalba on the opening day of the Arabian Gulf League season on August 31 and scored again in his third game – a 3-0 Arabian Gulf Cup triumph over Al Wasl. This led to him signing a lucrative contract until 2023.
He went on to make 24 appearances in total, scoring four goals, during what turned out to be an injury-plagued second half of the campaign, limiting him to just seven matches in 2019.
As well as ex-ADO Den Haag and VVV-Venlo boss Steijn, Wahda also unveiled a trio of new signings. These included Uruguayan centre midfielder Nicolas Milesi, 26, who joins on a season-long loan deal from fellow AGL side Al Dhafra.
Also arriving on a 12-month loan deal is 27-year-old winger Al Hussain Saleh, from Al Nasr. They are joined by Brazilian teenager Eduardo Voltan da Silva – an 18-year-old known as ‘Dudu’ – who joins from Sao Paulo’s Esporte Clube Sao Bernardo.
Steijn will immediately begin work for the season ahead, with Wahda facing a stern test in the round-of-16 of the AFC Champions League against champions of Saudi Arabia, Al Nassr.
The Clarets travel to Riyadh for the first leg on Tuesday, August 6, before hosting the second a week later at Al Nahyan Stadium. Steijn and his side were headed to the Netherlands on Monday night for a three and-a-half week training camp, and the 45-year-old refused to be drawn on Al Ghassani’s future.
“Let’s see in the camp about every player,” Steijn said when asked if he is looking to keep hold of the youngster.
“I don’t speak about players in particular, on this day. First I want to meet all the players, I met my staff yesterday to say hello. I want to talk with all those guys in private in Holland and then after three-and-a-half weeks I will know everything about the players.
“I don’t want to talk about players particularly now, but we have all the time.”
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