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.


Anthony Joshua ready for Deontay Wilder but promoter wants no more delay

Updated 23 September 2018
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Anthony Joshua ready for Deontay Wilder but promoter wants no more delay

  • Joshua successfully defended his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts
  • Joshua has repeatedly stressed he wants to fight fellow undefeated champion Wilder

LONDON: Britain’s Anthony Joshua believes his long-awaited clash with fellow world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will take place as it would be “silly not to.”
But promoter Eddie Hearn has warned a deal must be agreed quickly if the American is to be Joshua’s next opponent.
Joshua successfully defended his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts with brutal a seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
He is already booked in to box again at Wembley on April 13, but the question of an opponent has still to be resolved.
Joshua has repeatedly stressed he wants to fight fellow undefeated champion Wilder, who holds the World Boxing Council version of the heavyweight title, next.
“We have to fight, it would be silly not to” Joshua told reporters after inflicting the first stoppage-loss of Povetkin’s professional career.
Wilder, however, is next due to face Britain’s former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on December 1.
Talks between the Joshua and Wilder camps have stalled and Hearn is worried a fight that will be worth far more than the “peanuts” of an initially offered $50 million could be derailed.
If Fury beats Wilder, the American’s re-match clause would likely be activated, delaying both boxers from facing Joshua, the London 2012 Olympic champion who now has a professional record of 22 wins from 22 fights, with 21 knockouts.
“Being British, we’d like Fury to win, but for April, Wilder must win if that’s going to happen,” said Hearn.
“We’re not willing to wait until December to see. A deal must be done in advance of that, subject to him winning.
“But now, after 80,000 (the estimated crowd at Wembley) and the worldwide exposure and after the finish (against Povetkin) that offer (made previously, by the Wilder camp) will look like absolute peanuts when this fight is made.”
“That is the biggest fight in boxing; Wilder-Fury is a really good fight to see who’s the second best heavyweight in the world. Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko was the biggest fight in British boxing history, and Joshua-Wilder would eclipse that. We want that now.”
Hearn insisted: “We’re not waiting for time-wasters; we understand if they lose we’ll have to find another opponent, but if you win, we’re not waiting until December.
“These aren’t negotiations that will take 24 hours, and Joshua’s career is not being slowed down. If they don’t want to do that, we’ll fight someone else.”
Fury has previously said on social media that Joshua will never fight him but Hearn witheringly added: “Tyson Fury is the least entertaining fighter I’ve ever seen.
“He’s never been in a good fight, apart from against Steve Cunningham (in 2013), when he got knocked down.”
Meanwhile the 28-year-old Joshua said he too had no intention of being messed about by Wilder.
“If Wilder’s not serious, there’s other people out there; when he’s ready, we’re ready.”
Joshua added: “Good luck to them both (Wilder and Fury) — boxing needs it.
“I’ve had the burden of the heavyweight division on my back for some years, because it was all about me fighting Wilder, Fury, Klitschko, Dillian (Whyte), Povetkin. That’s all they were interested in — me fighting them all.
“So I’m happy those two are fighting. April 13 is booked, so whichever heavyweight is serious, we can look at making a deal. I have no interest in who wins; I’m not fussed.”
Joshua was rocked by Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic champion, in the first round. But he insisted the 39-year-old Russian had not broken his nose.
“These guys the last thing they lose is their power, but it was a good way to wake up,” Joshua said.
As for what lay behind his own public appeal, Joshua added: “The appeal is losing — who is going to be the man to beat me? Sometimes you have to go in there and really earn your money.
“Povetkin was a tough challenger for sure, but I knew how to break him down.
“I wasn’t looking for the knockout but the instinct told he was hurt. I knew how to tidy up and I knew it was time to get out of there.”