Al-Hilal remain confident they can complete star signing of Omar Abdulrahman

Pointing the way to Riyadh? Al-Hilal certainly hope so as they look to sign UAE star Omar Abdulrahman. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2018
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Al-Hilal remain confident they can complete star signing of Omar Abdulrahman

  • Riyadh giants are hopeful UAE playmaker will in in their side for next season.
  • Al-Nassr also fancy signing 26-year-old Al-Ain star.

Despite a late hijack attempt from Riyadh rivals Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal are confident of landing regional superstar Omar Abdulrahman on a season-long loan sooner rather than later.
The United Arab Emirates playmaker is the hottest property in West Asian football and Al-Hilal are close to making a deal with the 26-year-old who was born in Riyadh and a boyhood supporter of the traditional giants of Saudi Arabian football.
With his contract at Al-Ain at an end, the player is free to go where he wants and despite links with clubs in Spain, France and the Netherlands, looks set to start the coming Saudi Professional League season with Al-Hilal before returning to Al-Ain next summer.
The Saudi champions had hoped to announce the deal on Aug. 6 but the late entry of Al-Nassr into the equation has turned a long-running transfer story into something more dramatic and expensive.
“We have been talking to the player and while it has taken time, everything has progressed smoothly,” an official at Al-Hilal told Arab News.
“We are operating against time as the transfer window in Saudi Arabia closes on Aug. 23 but we should get the deal done much before then.”
Al-Hilal are aware of the interest from their Riyadh rivals.
“We know that other clubs want the player, he is a very good player, but we are sure that Al-Hilal are the only club in Saudi Arabia that he would think about playing for. He would be a fine addition to our squad.”
It may have been easier for Al-Hilal had Al-Ain chairman Ghanem Al-Hajjeri not publicly spoken on the matter last week.
“There are many serious offers to Omar Abdurahman, and the club that convinces him and offers a lucrative offer will win the deal,” Al-Hajjiri said.
That encouraged Al-Nassr who, like Al-Hilal with Sami Al-Jaber, have a new, energetic and ambitious club president in Saud Al-Swailam. The club were not prepared to comment on Abdulrahman, who has been the subject of speculation ever since making an international name for himself at the 2012 London Olympics, however.
According to reports, Al-Hilal were initially ready to pay  around $5.9 million in total in order to secure the services of “Amoory” for a year before his return to Al-Ain, currently the only club he has ever played for. Al-Nassr, however, have indicated their willingness to pay more than $8 million. Al-Hilal have subsequently increased their offer but refused to say by how much.
“A player of that quality does not come cheap,” said the Al-Hilal official. “But he is worth the money. He will not need any time to settle or adapt. He has lots of experience in the Champions League in Asia and will create lots of chances for our players.”
It is not the first time this summer that the Riyadh giants have clashed in the transfer market. According to reports in Portugal, the homeland of Al-Hilal’s new coach Jorge Jesus, the defending champions were close to a deal with Benfica’s free-scoring Brazilian Jonas Goncalves but Al-Nassr have been trying to persuade the 34-year-old to change his mind.
Whatever happens with Abdulrahman and Goncalves, both clubs have already been busy in the transfer market ahead of the new season that kicks off later this month.
Al-Hilal have signed Spanish defender Alberto Botia and Peruvian international Andre Carrillo.
Al-Nassr, third in the league last season, made headlines last week with the capture of Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Premier League club Leicester City, and former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones. The club has also recruited, among others, Peru center-back Christian Ramos and Moroccan international Nordin Amrabat. The 2018-19 Saudi Pro League season kicks off on Aug 30.


Mohamed Salah sure Liverpool can handle the pressure of Premier League title tilt

Updated 33 min 57 sec ago
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Mohamed Salah sure Liverpool can handle the pressure of Premier League title tilt

  • Reds face Manchester United on Sunday in crouch clash.
  • Egyptian ace says Reds will embrace the pressure as they g in each of first top-flight title since 1990.

LONDON: Mohamed Salah is in no doubt Liverpool can handle the pressure of the title run in, ahead of their crunch clash against arch-rivals Manchester United.
The Reds lie second in the Premier League table to Manchester City on goal difference, though with a game in hand. It was barely a month ago that they enjoyed a seven-point lead over the Abu Dhabi-owed club, but draws against Leicester and West Ham raised fears that Liverpool were starting to feel the strain of bidding for a first top-flight title since 1990.
But Salah has sought to put fans’ fears at ease, claiming the Reds are ready to embrace the pressure, starting at Anfield against familiar foe United.
“I said in November that there is pressure and it will be there until the end of the season, because when you play for the Premier League you have to accept that there is pressure,” Salah told Sky Sports.
“When you go home you can take it with you, but it can help you to work harder and focus on your game.
“At the end of the day you have a target in your mind, you have a dream, you want to win the Premier League. I even said that two years ago when I came — it is a dream to win the Premier League.”
Added to the pressure of trying to win the title is the fact that a clash against Manchester United is like nothing else the Reds come up against all season. The two teams are arch-rivals and Salah is only too aware that their North West neighbors would like nothing more than to ruin the Reds’ title charge.
The United encounter is the first of three tough fixtures in a week for Liverpool, with a midweek clash with Watford and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Sunday to come — a run of games that is not lost on Salah.
“It is a very big week for us,” Salah said. “And if we win three games and are top of the table, that is huge for us. When you have three games in a week or ten days, you just need to win, win, win, then after that you have time to think.
“Even when we are not top of the league, I know how much United want to win against Liverpool and Everton the same. For me it is not a big deal. We just need to do what we have been doing for the last couple of months.”