Bert van Marwijk has emerged as a potential target to become the UAE’s next coach if a sizeable difference in wage demands can be bridged, his work successfully transforming all levels of Saudi Arabian football making the beaten World Cup 2010 finalist of particular interest.
Van Marwijk, 65, surprisingly became available two weeks ago after a serious fracture in the relationship between himself and the Green Falcons hierarchy followed the attainment of World Cup 2018 qualification. This led to Argentine Edgardo Bauza’s shock defection across the border from the Emirates following only three mixed competitive matches in charge.
A job swap is now possible as the UAE Football Association’s three-man panel attempt to identify the man to lead the nation on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup. If the ex-Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg tactician is recruited, a takeover could occur in a bid to replicate the success experienced by the Saudi Football Federation under technical director Jan van Winckel and Under-23 boss Adrie Koster – a post that is also empty after Hassan Al Abdouli failed to make the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.
The main competition comes from ex-Al Wahda, Japan and Mexico boss Javier Aguirre. Former United States and Germany supremo Jurgen Klinsmann was also a target in the wake of Mahdi Ali’s March resignation, along with Peru tactician Ricardo Gareca.
Their pursuit of No1 pick Cosmin Olaroiu of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club has proven impossible once again. They are unable to match the reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.5m) to be paid in the final year of the Romanian’s deal at his current employers.
Remuneration is a significant hurdle for the Whites.
All their main European options demand a rate far higher than the $4m agreed with Bauza, which would have paid him and his staff until February 2019.
Van Marwijk alone earned €2.2m (Dh9.7m) a year with the Saudis and wants a raise to €3m (Dh13.2m). Klinsmann is holding out for a €5m (Dh22m) annual package.
But a deal with Van Marwijk is a tantalising one. The highlight of his spell with the Netherlands from 2008-12 was leading them to a 1-0 extra-time loss in the global showpiece against Spain seven years ago.
The Saudis were transformed by him upon arrival in August 2015. He earned a first World Cup entry since 2006 this month, also edging the UAE out of the picture.
But the SFF’s unilateral sacking of several staff members and Van Marwijk’s refusal to spend 23 days a month in the Kingdom saw talks about a contract renewal terminated.
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