Abderrahmane Meziane insists their exploits at last year’s FIFA Club World Cup persuaded him to turn down offers from elsewhere in the Middle East as well as Europe to sign with UAE giants Al Ain.
The Algerian forward arrived at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in June on a four-year contract as a direct replacement for prolific Brazilian forward Caio, who signed for Portuguese champions Benfica after flourishing during three years in the Garden City.
The 25-year-old netted seven goals in 24 games as he helped USM Alger lift the Ligue Professionnelle 1 title in his homeland last season, and joins a raft of new arrivals at the Boss, with Brazilian attacker Caio Canedo plucked from Al Wasl, as well as Togo and RS Berkane flyer Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba.
Mohamed Helal has also come in from Ajman as has ex-Al Jazira midfielder Mohamed Jamal, with only versatile Japan defender Tsukasa Shiotani retained from last season’s four-player foreign quota.
“Al Ain wowed the world in the Club World Cup and the popularity of the club is not limited to just an internal scale in the UAE,” said the Medea-born man, capped once by Les Fennecs.
The Boss reached the final of the Club World Cup in December – held on home soil – losing 4-1 to Spanish behemoths Real Madrid in the showpiece held in front of 40,000 fans at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Luka Modric, Marcos Llorente and Sergio Ramos put Los Blancos in control during the December 22 showpiece before Shiotani pulled a goal back late on, with an own goal sealing back-to-back triumphs for Real.
Meziane added: “It was the first choice for me with respect to all other clubs and I have I found in Al Ain what I would find in the European clubs that I received offers from.
“Professionalism and high possibilities and the latest sports facilities that contribute to raise the performance of players.”
After winning the league title in his homeland last term, Meziane is keen to lift more silverware with his new club – and there will be pressure to do so having slumped to a fourth-placed league finish following a tumultuous 2019 which also saw them dumped out of the AFC Champions League at the group stage.
“The ceiling of my ambitions is very high after joining Al Ain, I seek titles and the Champions League in particular,” he said.
“The Al Ain fans have impressed me with the warm welcome and I promise everyone to show my best. I wish my team and colleagues success in fulfilling the aspirations of the fans and I hope to delight them by strengthening the trophy cabinet with more achievements.”
Omar Abdulrahman and Amer Abdulrahman have joined Al Jazira is a huge double swoop for the Abu Dhabi club.
The duo have moved on a free transfer and will join their new team-mates for the first time when the squad returns from their pre-season training camp in the Netherlands on Friday.
Omar, 27, who has 71 international caps, is a prolific forward with an eye for goal and creativity seeing him named as the Asian Player of the Year in 2016.
The move marks a return to UAE football after his contract with Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal ended and will boost Al Jazira’s attacking options this season.
Amer arrives at Al Jazira, having featured for Al Ain and Baniyas. The 30-year-old centre-midfielder, who made 76 appearances for the UAE will bring plenty of experience to the squad having played more than 150 matches in all competitions in the UAE.
Speaking on the new signings, His Excellency Mohamed Saif Al Suwaidi, board member of the Club and chairman of Al Jazira Football Company, said: “Thanks to Allah for helping us to finalise these important signings. They are another example of the big ambitions of this club and I am grateful to the higher management of Al Jazira FC for their continuous support and wise leadership. We wish Omar and Amer a fantastic season ahead. Best of luck to them and their team-mates as we go in search of success on the pitch.”
Omar is excited to the new challenge ahead at Al Jazira. He said: “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the management of Al Jazira for the trust they have shown in my ability. I am here to help the club reach its goals this season, and in many more to come.
“I have several friends already at the club but I’m excited to meet up with the full squad in the coming days. I will work hard to gain the respect of the coaching staff, the players and the fans. I’m really optimistic about the future and I believe that we will celebrate a lot of good things together.”
Amer described the switch as an opportunity he simply could not turn down. He said: “First of all I want to offer my sincere gratitude to Al Jazira Club for their belief in me. This is an amazing club with a reputation for developing UAE national players. I will give everything to be at my best and to repay the club for the opportunity, but I also want to use this chance to inspire younger players and the next generation.”
Al Jazira appear to have pulled off a major transfer coup after former Al Ain talisman Omar Abdulrahman was in pictured in their 2019/20 home jersey.
‘Amoory’ – without a club after leaving Saudi Arabia powerhouses Al Hilal last month – was pictured in the new Jazira shirt on Twitter late on Wednesday night, along with namesake Amer Abdulrahman.
If true, the Pride of Abu Dhabi will have significantly bolstered their forward options for the new season under new coach Jurgen Streppel with the acquisition of two renowned UAE internationals.
It would also pair the two most recognised and talented stars of UAE football together – with Abdulrahman joining feared striker Ali Mabkhout at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
Abdulrahman, 27, established himself as the poster boy of UAE football during a decade playing for Al Ain’s first team. He also appeared on the radar globally after shining for the UAE at the 2012 Olympic Games in the UK, after which he impressed during a trial at Manchester City – only for a move to break down because of work-permit issues.
Ligue 1’s Nice became the latest in a long line of sides to fail to make him the first Emirati to permanently join one of the west’s major competitions in the summer of 2017. La Liga’s Leganes and Ligue 1’s Lyon were linked 12 months ago.
He was named Asian Footballer of the Year in 2016 although his time with the Boss soured towards the end and he shockingly defected last summer, returning to boyhood club Hilal – he was born in Riyadh to Yemeni parents.
But a serious knee injury suffered last October curtailed the cultured playmaker’s debut campaign at the Crescent and ruined his chances of playing for the UAE at the 2019 Asian Cup on home soil.
Rumours of a departure from Hilal were rife this summer with talk he would return to the AGL with the Garden City side, or even Al Nasr.
But Al Ain manager Ivan Leko labelled rumours that he advised the club against re-signing their former star as “fake news” last week.
The Blue Wave, meanwhile, had distanced themselves from reports.
Amoory’s stock as a footballer is low, but his reputation remains high. And if his signing is to be confirmed by Jazira, it will send shockwaves throughout the AGL and add excitement to 2019/20’s title race. Reigning champions Sharjah were deserving winners but runners-up Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and third, fourth and fifth-placed Al Ain and Jazira were separated by just eight points.
The two Abdulrahmans will join Morocco forward Mourad Batna and Sultan Al Ghaferi through the doors at the Abu Dhabi giants – both arriving from cross-city rivals Al Wahda, although the Clarets are disputing the legitimacy of the Batna transfer.
Brazilian attacker Keno has also arrived from Pyramids FC while compatriot Leonardo has joined Chinese Super League side Tianjin Tianhai.