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.”
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