Al-Nassr waiting to hear from Benfica star striker Jonas Goncalves over move to club

Al-Nassr are waiting to hear from Brazilian Jonas as they aim to claim the Saudi Pro League title they last won in 2015. (AFP)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Al-Nassr waiting to hear from Benfica star striker Jonas Goncalves over move to club

  • Jonas is Al-Nassr's top target having missed out on Omar Abdulrahman.
  • The Brazilian scored 34 times in just 30 league appearances for Benfica last season.

Al-Nassr are still hopeful of signing Brazilian hotshot Jonas Goncalves Oliveira from Benfica although the Riyadh club are starting to lose patience and are demanding an answer, one way or the other, as soon as possible.
Landing one of the most prolific strikers in European football would more than make up for losing out to neighbors and rivals Al-Hilal for the signature of United Arab Emirates star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman last week.
Al-Nassr, who finished third last season, 12 points behind champions Al-Hilal, are confident that Jonas wants to move to the Middle East with a two-year $15 million deal on the table.
“We have made our final offer,” an Al-Nassr official told Arab News.
“We have also made it clear that we expect an answer by the start of next week at the latest. If it is not going to happen then we still want a little time to look at other targets before the transfer window closes.”
Jonas, twice the Primera Liga Player of the Year, scored 34 goals in 30 league games in Portugal last season and has averaged almost a goal a game since joining from Valencia in 2014. No wonder then that he is seen by Al-Nassr coach Jose Daniel Carreno as the final piece in the jigsaw as the team aim to take the title for the first time since 2015. 
The striker was also on the shopping list of Al-Hilal with new coach Jorge Jesus keen to reunite with the striker having signing him when Benfica coach, but it is Al-Nassr leading the chase.
“The offer we have made is a good one,” the official added.
“It is now down to the player. We don’t know what is going to happen and it is probably 50-50. What we didn’t count on was that his wife is pregnant and it seems that she prefers to stay in Portugal to have the baby but we will see what happens.
“We are sure he would score goals for us but we are still happy with our activity and are looking forward to the new season.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to ensuring the Brazilian makes the move to Riyadh are Benfica. The former European champions are fighting to keep the star who has one year left on his contract and are ready to offer an extension of two years at an increased salary, even if they cannot match Al-Nassr’s eye-watering offer. The 36-time Portuguese champions are also hoping for a quick answer one way or the other.
“He is one of the best players we have had in the past 20 or 30 years and we don’t want to lose him and the fans agree with us,” Benfica boss Luis Felipe Vieira said last Tuesday.
Al-Nassr have been busy ahead of the new season that kicks off on Aug 30. On Friday, hundreds of fans packed Riyadh’s airport to welcome new signing Ahmed Musa who signed from Leicester City earlier this month for a fee, while undisclosed, reported to be around $20 million.
The Nigerian international, who scored twice at this summer’s World Cup, was visibly surprised and delighted.
“What an amazing reception here in Saudi Arabia,” Musa said.
“I want to thank each and every person who came out and welcomed me at the airport. I am really humbled. I can feel the excitement and energy already, I am looking forward to this historic opportunity.”
As well as Musa, Al-Nassr have recruited former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones, Moroccan international winger Nordin Amrabat, who like Musa impressed in Russia, and Peru center-back Christian Ramos.
 Al-Nassr, won the last of their eight league titles in 2015 , and kick off their new campaign at Ohod on Aug 31.


From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019
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From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.