Saudi Arabia cup winners Al-Ittihad sign Brazilian and welcome back Green Falcons star

Thiago Carleto has joined Al-Ittihad from Atletico Paranaense. (AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Saudi Arabia cup winners Al-Ittihad sign Brazilian and welcome back Green Falcons star

  • Left-back Thiago Carleto has joined the Saudi Pro League club
  • Fahad Al-Muwallad is back in training after his goal at the World Cup

LONDON: Al-Ittihad continue to bolster their King’s Cup winning squad, this time announcing they have signed Brazilian left-back Thiago Carleto.
The Saudi Pro League outfit made a significant double signing last week, recruiting Serbian international striker Aleksandar Pesic and Australia World Cup defender Matthew Jurman — and the Tigers have now moved to strengthen the left-back position by landing Carleto.
The 29-year-old joins from Atletico Paranaense and will bring with him the experience of playing for some of Brazil’s top clubs and in Spain for Valencia and Elche. He is set to join the rest of his new teammates in Austria where they are preparing for the new season under the guidance of new boss Ramon Diaz.
Diaz, the former Al-Hilal coach, has been hired to try and bring about a change in the Tigers’ fortunes. They have not won the league since 2009 and could only finish ninth last season. They did, however, win the King’s Cup for the ninth time, beating Al-Faisaly in a match that was overshadowed by the original referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi offering to take a bribe to influence the outcome of the match.
Since then, Al-Ittihad have been active in the transfer market. They have signed Saudi Arabia international defenders Hassan Muath Fallatah and Abdullah Al-Shammari, recruited youngster Jaber Issa and also extended the contract of goalkeeper Fawaz Al-Qarni until 2022.
Wanderson Ferreira de Oliveira, who is more commonly known as Valdívia, has joined on loan from Sao Paulo for a season.
Star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad has also been reintegrated back into the fold after his loan spell at Levante and then his World Cup exploits. He was given an extended break by coach Diaz and did not report for pre-season training in Austria until Sunday. He will be a key player for the team this season.
The 23-year-old became the first ever player from Saudi Arabia to play in La Liga when he came on as a substitute in Levante’s 3-0 away win at Leganes and he then went on to play in all three of the Green Falcons’ World Cup matches, coming on as a substitute against Russia and then starting the last two games against Uruguay and Egypt. He scored his tenth goal for his country in the 2-1 win over Egypt.
He will be eased slowly into the pre-season program, which features friendlies against Slovenian side
NK Krka, Al-Wahda and Al-Fujairah, the club once coached by Diego Maradona.
The Tigers start the competitive season with an Arab Club Champions Cup game against Al-Wasl on Aug. 7 followed by a Saudi Super Cup tie in London against Al-Hilal on Aug. 18.


Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

Updated 16 July 2019
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Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

LOS ANGELES: Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli scored in his Arsenal debut Monday as the English Premier League club launched their pre-season tour of the US with a 3-0 friendly win over the Colorado Rapids.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka also scored for the Gunners, who cruised to victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver.

Martinelli, the 18-year-old forward signed from Ituano on July 2, was given a surprise start in attack by Unai Emery and sent an early chance wide.

Saka, 17, was an energetic presence and put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 13th minute as he collected a through-ball from Eddie Nketiah.

Another teenager — 18-year-old Olayinka —  doubled the score in the 29th, seizing a stray pass from defense and racing in to fire into the top left corner of the net.

Martinelli, having missed his early chance, capped the scoring in the 61st when he slotted home a cross from close range.

The Rapids, in the midst of the Major League Soccer season, fielded a mostly reserve side that featured several players from the lower-rung Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Arsenal, too, started a reserve team as they begin their build up to the Premier League season after again failing to secure a Champions League berth.

The tour has not started without controversy. Captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel to the US, and a group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organizations published a statement on Monday hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership.”

Under a hashtag “WeCareDo You” the statement decried a “soulless” atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Kroenke, who began investing in the club in 2007 through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises and took full ownership in 2018, also owns the Rapids as well as the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.