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.


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

Updated 35 min 52 sec ago
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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.”