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.


Kusal Perera the hero as Sri Lanka pull off stunning run chase to beat South Africa in Durban

Updated 16 February 2019
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Kusal Perera the hero as Sri Lanka pull off stunning run chase to beat South Africa in Durban

DURBAN: Sri Lanka pulled off a stunning against-the-odds run chase to beat South Africa by one wicket in the first Test on Saturday as Kusal Perera almost single-handedly won the game with his 153 not out.
Chasing an unlikely 304, Sri Lanka were 226-9 and seemingly out of it. But a last-wicket partnership of 78 between Perera and Vishwa Fernando took the tourists to a thrilling victory on the fourth day.
Perera scored 68 of those 78 runs, but Fernando hung in for 27 balls for his 6 not out to allow Perera to guide the tourists home.
Sri Lanka’s victory gives them a 1-0 lead in the short two-test series and ends South Africa’s run of seven straight home series wins.
Sri Lanka’s 304-9 was the third-highest successful run chase in nearly 100 years of Test cricket at the Kingsmead ground in Durban.
Perera won it with a late cut down to the boundary for four, prompting Sri Lankan players to sprint from the dressing room and out onto the pitch to congratulate their match winner. Perera removed his helmet and thrust both arms up in the air to celebrate one of the best innings ever by a Sri Lankan.
Sri Lanka have lost their last three series and had two debutants and a new captain for the first test, meaning few people gave the inexperienced visiting team a chance against South Africa.