Usain Bolt’s football dream up in the air in Australia

The sprint star has long held ambitions to play professional football .
Updated 19 July 2018
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Usain Bolt’s football dream up in the air in Australia

Football Federation Australia has responded cautiously to reports 
Usain Bolt hopes to play for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League.
Reports said the 31-year-old Bolt, the eight-time Olympic sprint gold medalist and fastest man ever, had agreed to trial with the Mariners next month and may receive a one-season A-League contract if he impresses.
However, in order to make a deal possible the FFA would have to top up any salary offered to Bolt from its $3 million fund to attract “marquee” players. The Mariners owner reportedly has offered to meet 70 percent of Bolt’s salary but the FFA’s contribution might still be around $900,000.
In a statement, the FFA said: “While Usain Bolt is one of the most famous athletes on the planet, he’s not a professional footballer.
“If the trial goes ahead and Central Coast Mariners decided it stacks up and they want to offer him a contract, then we will have a discussion with them around that and what might be possible.”
Bolt, who quit the track last year, has already trialed unsuccessfully with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns. Many regard reports he might trial with the Mariners as a public relations stunt. His previous trials were with clubs that shared his major sponsor.
“It is crucial to note that all discussions between the Central Coast Mariners and Bolt require an initial six-week trial period and no contract is guaranteed,” a club statement said.
Bolt’s agent, Ricky Sims, confirmed that the Jamaican athlete is 
considering the Mariners’ offer of 
a trial.
“Usain has made it quite clear that he’s interested in playing professional football,” Simms said.
“We’re looking at a number of options and this is one of them.”
Australian player agent Tony 
Rallis, who first revealed Bolt’s interest in playing in the A-League, said Bolt was genuine in his desire to play for the Mariners.
“If he meets the benchmarks set by the coaches, he’ll be given a contract,” Rallis said.
“He’ll be treated like another one of the players and he doesn’t want to be treated like a different player.
“He’s got a point to prove and he’s determined to prove he’s worth a contract.”


Al-Nassr ready to challenge for title after signing Brazilian Giuliano

Updated 21 August 2018
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Al-Nassr ready to challenge for title after signing Brazilian Giuliano

  • Riyadh club have not won the title since 2015 and have set their stall out to win it for the ninth time.
  • Brazilian Giuliano is the latest star to sign for Al-Nassr, joining Nigeria international Ahmed Musa.

LONDON: Al-Nassr are ready to challenge for the Saudi Pro League title after a busy summer in the transfer market and elsewhere. That is the message from the Riyadh club who have their sights set on reclaiming the title they last won in 2015.
The side finished third last season but under the energetic leadership of new president Saud Al-Suwailem, the eight time champions ended the transfer window on Monday by confirming the signing of former 
Brazilian international Giuliano from 
Fenerbahce for a fee of €10 million ($11.5 million).
It is the second biggest deal that Al-Nassr have done since the end of last season after the Ahmed Musa transfer, the Nigerian international arriving in early August from Leicester City Premier League. And having seen the 28-year-old attacking midfielder score 14 goals in the Turkish league last season, the club feel Giuliano is a great addition to their expanding squad.
Not only that, the club has brought in former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones, former Watford star and Morocco international Nordin Amrabat, Peru international defender Christian Ramos and also welcome back Saudi star Yahya Al-Shehri from his loan in Spain.
“We are very happy with the squad going into the new season,” an Al-Nassr official told Arab News.
“It was already a good one but we have strengthened in every area and especially have added some very exciting attacking players. If the coach can get the new signings to settle quickly then we could have a good season.”
There is no automatic demand for the title but an improvement on last season when Al-Nassr finished 12 points behind champions and Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal is required.
“We know that it won’t be easy as the top teams all look to be stronger after spending on some good talent from overseas,” added the official.
“We want to be challenging for the title, that is where we should be. It helps that we also have a coach that has done it before.”
For Al-Nassr, the return of Jose Daniel Carreno could be a game-changer. The Uruguayan tactician had a successful spell with the club and lifted the 2013 league title and the Crown Prince Cup in the same year. He returned to the club in March and his knowledge of Al-Nassr and the league is seen as vital.
“I think the changes to the team have been of great benefit,” Carreno said after last week’s 2-1 win at UAE side Al-Jazira in the Arab Champions Cup. “We have more firepower going forward and we will look to be aggressive and put teams on the backfoot, and press higher up the pitch than before.
“There is still work to do but we are moving to where we want to be. The league is going to be tough this time with Al-Hilal looking strong and signing players, and Al-Ittihad will not have the kind of season they had last time but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
There have been developments off the pitch too. President Al-Suwailem was appointed in April and has been working hard to improve standards at the club and increase revenues.
Earlier this month, the president went to the UAE to sign a four year sponsorship deal with Etihad Airlines that is reportedly worth SR50 million ($13.34 million) a year.
“There is more energy at all levels of the club,” said the official.
“Of course, it depends on what happens when the season starts but we can’t wait for the season to start.”