Arabian Gulf League heavyweights Al Ain have begun trimming their squad after an emphatic start to the summer transfer window, sending Mali defensive midfielder Tongo Doumbia to Ajman and loaning left-back Saeed Al Menhali to Ittihad Kalba.
Doumbia, 29, has inked a two-year deal with the Orange Brigade. The towering former Rennes, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Toulouse and Dinamo Zagreb battler was registered exclusively for the Boss’ 2018 Club World Cup and 2019 AFC Champions League rosters.
He was overlooked for their 2019/20 top-flight squad, despite three of four foreign players departing. A new challenge awaits at a mid-table outfit who shed Senegalese striker Mame Baba Thiam to Turkey’s Kasimpasa earlier this week, plus landed Emirati striker Mohammed Ibrahim from surprise champions Sharjah.
Al Menhali, 25, has inked a one-season temporary switch to Kalba. The unwanted youth product made only six top-flight appearances for the Boss in 2018/19.
Al Ain have been exceptionally busy this month as they attempt to rebuild in the wake of last term’s distant fourth-placed finish.
Diminutive Algerian winger Abderrahmane Meziane, highly rated Togo forward Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba and Dh25 million-rated Al Wasl forward Caio Canedo have bolstered their foreign ranks. Domestically, successful moves have been made for promising midfielders Mohamed Jamal of Al Ain and Mohammed Helal of Ajman.
These troops will be overseen by ex-Croatia midfielder Ivan Leko.
The 41-year-old – who replaces Spain’s Juan Carlos Garrido – was named Belgium’s Professional Manager of the Year for 2017/18 after he led Club Brugge to that season’s title.
Meanwhile, Portuguese minnows Portimonense are expected to soon finish Brazilian striker Iury de Castilho’s unremarkable stint at Al Nasr.
Iury, 23, was signed from the Ukraine’s Zorya Luhansk in June 2018 and then deregistered in September once ex-Spain centre forward Alvaro Negredo was landed. He failed to spark on loan at Saudi Arabia’s Al Fayha in the second half of the campaign.
O Jogo has reported agreement on a three-year contract in the Algarve.
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