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.


England celebrate World Cup triumph with young fans

Updated 15 July 2019
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England celebrate World Cup triumph with young fans

  • After 44 years of trying, England became world champions with a stunning victory over New Zealand

LONDON: England revelled in their first World Cup triumph on Monday, soaking up the adulation of a disbelieving nation after one of the most extraordinary finishes to a cricket match in history.

The host country, after 44 years of trying, finally became world champions with a stunning victory over New Zealand at Lord’s, triumphing on superior boundary count after both the match and the additional Super Over shootout ended with the scores level.

The game was watched by the biggest audience in a generation, with around 30,000 packed into Lord’s, thousands congregating in front of a big screen in Trafalgar Square in central London and the first free-to-air terrestrial coverage in 14 years.

Hundreds of children flooded across the outfield at the Oval — across town from Lord’s — to help Eoin Morgan’s men celebrate their historic triumph. The south London ground was where England launched their World Cup campaign with a victory over South Africa way back on May 30.

Many of the young children at the Oval were wearing the kit of the All Stars junior program run by the England and Wales Cricket Board and others were dressed in their school uniforms.

As “Happy” by Pharrell Williams blared out, the youngsters were delighted to catch sight of England stars such as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer and flocked toward their new heroes.

It was a more modest celebration than the open-topped bus parade through the streets of London for England’s 2005 Ashes victors but was in keeping with the push to sell the game to a new generation.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet but coming down here and seeing what a small portion of the support we’ve had feels about it, the kids, the adults, the energy they all had for what they saw yesterday is amazing,” said man-of-the-match Stokes.

England coach Trevor Bayliss, drafted in with the aim of winning the World Cup following their miserable first-round exit at the 2015 tournament, said: “I heard some of the young guys in the team say the 2005 Ashes inspired them to bigger and better things.

“I think they are very proud they’ve been put in a position where they can hopefully inspire a few of the next generation.”

On Sunday the Queen sent her congratulations to England and the Royal Mail postal service announced it would issue a series of special stamps and decorate 15 post boxes to celebrate both the World Cup win and England’s victory at the 2017 Women’s edition of the tournament.

Prime Minister May, a lifelong cricket fan, was due to host the team at a reception.

“Yesterday (Sunday) was a brilliant performance by a brilliant team,” said May. “They showed flair, courage and an absolute determination to become world champions.

“The achievement, delivered in such a thrilling style on home soil, will live forever in our sporting history.”

“It’s also exciting to think just how many children will be inspired by this victory to pick up a bat for the first time and hopefully become the great cricketers and World Cup winners of tomorrow,” she added.

“We must build on this success.”