Al Jazira’s new director of football, Mads Davidsen, has declared his resolve not to sell “one of the best players in Asia” in Omar Abdulrahman and a superstar he’s long coveted from afar.
Abdulrahman, 28, was snapped up by the Pride of Abu Dhabi during August 2019 after an injury ravaged spell at boyhood heroes Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia. The celebrated 2016 AFC Player of the Year, however, would record only three goals and two assists throughout appearance in all 19 Arabian Gulf League fixtures before March’s cessation because of coronavirus, leading to rumours a summer exit may be sought.
This talk about the UAE international was emphatically shot down by the club’s besotted Danish administrator, who emphasises this dogged stance with tales of a failed pursuit when he was at big-spending Shanghai SIPG and Amoory was at Al Ain.
“I can be very clear,” he replied on a Zoom call with reporters. “Omar Abdulrahman is a very important player for us.
“He’s for me one of the best players in Asia.
“A little side story is that I actually tried to bring him to Shanghai SIPG back in the day, but we didn’t succeed unfortunately.
“But Omar has a contract here and we consider him as a very important part of our future, so that’s it.”
Davidsen was appointed in June “as part of an on-going commitment to building future sustainable sporting success”. This wide remit ranges from first-team recruitment, to continuing the academy’s excellent track record for producing top domestic talents.
Jazira, the 2016/17 top-flight winners, were a distant third when play stopped. They then cut ties to underperforming Brazilian forward Keno and Moroccan winger Mourad Batna.
Replacements in the four-player foreign quota were not secured ahead of Thursday’s proposed 2020/21 kick-off, a date pushed back to next month at 24-hours’ notice following “consultations and coordination with the relevant UAE authorities”.
The 37-year-old – a 2018 Chinese Super League champion – was strident about the view he would not be rushed into business.
“In terms of foreign players, it’s actually quite simple: it’s not that we’re not looking,” said Davidsen, who also revealed overtures from footballers in Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues. “We are definitely always in the market, we’re always looking can we strengthen our team.
“But we’re also critical. I’m quite critical in terms of recruitment, it has to be significantly better than what you have, you have to be as sure as possible.
“We’re dealing with human beings, so you can never be 100-per-cent sure, but as sure as possible when you do your due diligence with players.
“We could bring in players tomorrow, I can guarantee you that I’ve been offered many players the last couple of months.
“So it’s not a problem – the problem is it has to be the right standard. It’s not because we don’t want to buy, we just have to be sure of what we’re getting.”
Davidsen, also, believed the strength of Jazira’s academy meant they did not need to be busy in the domestic market. They have not made any additions, to date.
He said: “I think we have top, top players on the local market, I have to say.
“Of course, we’re always looking to see what’s out there, but again I have been really impressed with what the academy has done here.
“The average age of our squad now is below 24, so that gives you an idea that we are two or three years ahead of our peak time, which means you can buy peak players now of course, but then you will also not develop the players needed to peak in the near future. So we need to find this balance.”