Few clubs across Asia last term boasted a greater disparity than Al Nasr between the awe-inspiring venue they called home and the sorry side that floundered in it.
Not even the flood of goals from ex-Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo could hide a litany of sins which witnessed the Blue Wave crash into an unseemly eighth spot in the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League. A lowest finish since 2009/10, incongruously, came at the same time they introduced a new architectural wonder to Dubai’s skyline.
The sublime upgrade for January 2019’s Asian Cup transformed their dilapidated arena into the Middle East’s version of Bayern Munich’s iconic Allianz Arena. Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and the rest of Arsenal’s travelling party provided apt opponents in March’s official opening.
A grand home then, but one without a requisite star name to regularly grace it.
This is where celebrated UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman and his tumultuous summer come into the picture. Rare opportunity knocks for an emboldened Nasr to nab a refined footballer, truly befitting of their grandiose home.
As games of brinkmanship go, this week’s reputed squeeze attempt by Amoory’s camp on exasperated employers Al Hilal will not go down as a classic.
Amid claim and counter-claim from both sides, the only tangible fact is that the Emirates’ best player from a ‘Golden Generation’ is presently set to, for the second-successive pre-season, become a free agent next month.
Hilal’s Saudi Professional League rivals Al Ahli Jeddah are reported to have prepared an alluring Dh40 million deal. Closer to home, competition for former side Al Ain is expected to arrive from Al Jazira and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club.
Nasr have, to date, been conspicuous by their absence within Arabian football circles.
No matter the venom in Hilal’s weekend statement that alleged mendacious behaviour, eventual rapprochement cannot be ruled out. Such is the pull of the 2016 AFC Player of the Year’s boyhood team.
This does not mean, however, that the Blue Wave are incapable of offering an enticing package.
Dubai is in desperate need of a sporting icon it can call its own. Forget the constant flood of illustrious visitors, from Roger Federer to Anthony Joshua and beyond, few other truly global cities are without one in permanent residence.
Amoory’s pull in the Arabian Gulf saw “Amoory matlab ya Bin Nafil” (Amoory new contract from Hilal president Fahad bin Nafil) become the number one trending topic on Saudi Arabian Twitter on Monday.
Transport the fervour to Dubai and the Al Maktoum will be lifted. This vibe could help lift an entire division.
AGL organisers, the Pro League Committee, have put concerted work into raising falling attendances and waning interest. Amoory’s presence in Dubai would be a welcome boon.
Amoory’s appeal for Nasr is obvious. It is less so when this scenario is flipped.
But there may also be legitimate doubts that cause hesitancy from the region’s biggest hitters and AFC Champions League participants in securing his signature.
Only one goal and one assist in five SPL games were notched by Amoory, prior to October’s devastating anterior cruciate ligament tear.
Full fitness from the latest in a long line of serious knee problems was also only confirmed late last week. From there, shenanigans began with Hilal.
Nasr appear to have recruited sensibly in this summer transfer window.
Colo-Colo’s Esteban Pavez helped anchor Chile’s midfield at the 2019 Copa America. Portuguese free agent Toze struck nine goals and three assists from attacking midfield for Portugal’s Vitoria Guimaraes, plus winger Brandley Kuwas reached double digits for both at the Eredivisie’s Heracles Almelo.
Amoory would turn a solid recruitment drive into a sensational one. He’d also make the Al Maktoum a sporting landmark, rather than just a resplendent example of landmark design.
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