The UAE could soon be celebrating its first homegrown footballer to permanently ply their trade in one of Europe’s major leagues, as German clubs explore the possibility of signing talented Al Wahda winger Yahya Al Ghassani.
The 21-year-old is attracting strong interest from the Bundesliga and negotiations are already under way with the Maroons to seal a historic switch.
If completed, the seismic transfer would see Al Ghassani become the first player born in the Emirates to seal a move to one of Europe’s top-five competitions.
Al Ghassani already has his name in the history books after he emerged as the standout member of the group allowed to feature in the Arabian Gulf League during 2018/19 after the decision by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that children of Emirati women born to foreign fathers will be able to compete in official UAE competitions for the first time.
And last season was a breakout campaign for the tricky left-winger.
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First season for me was more than what I expected first trophy scoring on my debut being among best 10 youngsters in Asia.Sorry for the fans that we couldn’t achieve what they wanted we will fight stronger next season. Thanks for everyone who supported me and trusted me. Sorry if I haven’t met your expectations🤙🏽❤️
After his first three deeply impressive displays for Wahda, the club immediately extended his one-year deal to tie him to the Abu Dhabi side until 2023.
He was then fast-tracked into the UAE Under-23 set-up during their bid to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and he finished an electric debut season with eight goals to his name for club and country.
Born and bred in the UAE to an Emirati mother and a father who holds Tanzanian and Omani passports, it’s not the first time Al Ghassani has attracted European onlookers.
Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain and Spanish sides Malaga and Leganes all kept tabs on him prior to him sealing a move to Wahda.
But the interest from Germany is concrete and the young attacker has long held an ambition to make his mark in Europe.
A player with massive potential, hallmarked by skill and will, Al Ghassani’s work ethic has always impressed.
He was first spotted by the Manchester United Academy during a two-week camp in his early teens before settling in Dubai side Al Ahli’s youth set-up when he was 15.
Now, there is genuine hope that the dexterous Al Ghassani can use his dancing feet to break ground in Europe.
Indeed, others have come close, most notably when Al Ain and UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman dazzled during a trial with Manchester City in 2012 before work permit issues scuppered any deal.
In the same year, seasoned UAE international and Wahda defender Hamdan Al Kamali was loaned to Lyon but only featured for the reserves.
His younger brother Hamid spent time on loan with Maltese outfit Valetta FC in 2014, even turning out in the preliminary stages of the UEFA Champions League, the first – and only, to date – Emirati to feature in the competition.
The defender, who left Dortmund for Bayern in 2016, will head back to the Westfalenstadion for a reported €38 million (£33.8million).
Bayern said in a statement they had “agreed to a deal for the transfer of the centre-back”, who will now undergo a medical at Dortmund.
The 30-year-old, who won the Bundesliga title in each of his three seasons at the Allianz Arena, is returning to the club he first joined from Bayern in 2009, winning two league titles in his first spell there.
He established himself as one of most highly regarded defenders in Europe in his seven years at Dortmund and was a key member of the Germany team which won the World Cup in 2014.
Hummels has won 70 caps, but his international career is on hold in the wake of the team’s awful 2018 World Cup and Nations League campaigns.
Boss Joachim Low has opted to focus on the next generation of German players, with Hummels one of the old guard who has been told he is not in the coach’s plans.
Borussia Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre has signed a new two-year deal with the club.
Favre took over last summer and his side led the Bundesliga for a large part of the season, competing with Bayern Munich for the title until the 34th match of the season.
The club also won their Champions League group before being knocked out by eventual finalists Tottenham.
The 61-year-old told the club website: “I am looking forward to continuing a constructive and successful cooperation with the entire BVB team.”
The club’s chief executive officer Michael Zorc added: “He has met the expectations to 100 per cent. It is logical that we have the future we want to shape together.”