Al Ain manager Ivan Leko has labelled rumours that he advised Al Ain against re-signing former star Omar Abdulrahman as “fake news”.
The former Boss poster boy left the Garden City for Saudi Arabia giants Al Hilal last summer but the return to his boyhood club quickly soured after he suffered a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury against Al Shabab Riyadh just two months after signing.
The 27-year-old subsequently left Asia powerhouses Hilal earlier this week after failing to agree a new contract. He had been linked with a return to the UAE and Al Ain, as well as fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al Nasr – although the Blue Wave have distanced themselves from such reports.
And new Boss tactician Leko denied widespread rumours he told the club he did not want Abdulrahman back in the wake of their 3-0 win over Slovenian side Celje, their first pre-season game of the summer.
“I prefer not to deal with those who are purveyors of lies,” said the 13-times capped Croatia midfielder.
“I strongly refuse to use my name by those who promote fake news. It is unethical behaviour and makes institutions lose their credibility. Unfortunately, I cannot read Arabic articles at present.
“He (Abdulrahman) has quality and high skills but I have never made any press statements on his return to the club.
“Al Ain has its own official media channels accompanying the team everywhere to cover the team’s news transparently and with high credibility to all who are concerned about the news of this big team.”
Leko, who takes over from Juan Carlos Garrido in the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium dugout after arriving following two years in charge of Belgian top-flight giants Club Brugge, commended the performance of his players in their routine victory over Celje on Wednesday.
“The results of such games are not significant. However, such matches reflect the players’ seriousness and desire to achieve strong results, whether they are official or friendly matches or even training sessions,” he said.
“I believe the players were successful in implementing the plans they trained to put into practice.
“The international players joined their team-mates only 24 hours ahead of the match as you know. This is why we had six players of the reserve team in the team’s starting line-up. I am so happy for their high level of performance during the first 45 minutes.
“Indeed, one of the key reasons to hold such matches is to assess the performance of all the players who might be helpful to the team in the coming season which is so crucial to the team and the club as well in the future.”
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