Al-Hilal sign Bafetimbi Gomis to complete summer spending spree

Bafetimbi Gomis was in great goal-scoring form at Galatasaray last season, scoring 29 goals in 33 appearances. (AFP)
Updated 24 August 2018
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Al-Hilal sign Bafetimbi Gomis to complete summer spending spree

  • Riyadh giants add ex-France International to their squad on last day of transfer window.
  • The former Swansea and Lyon striker means Jorge Jesus now has an embarrassment of riches in attack.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia champions Al-Hilal ended a busy summer by signing former Premier League and France international striker Bafetimbi Gomis just hours before the transfer window closed on Thursday.
The 33 year-old arrives in Riyadh after a very successful and prolific season at Turkish giants Galatasaray to give new coach Jorge Jesus even more attacking options as he looks to defend the club’s league title.
Gomis, the scorer of an eight-minute UEFA Champions League hat-trick, the fastest in the tournament’s history, for Lyon against Dynamo Zagreb in 2011, signed a two-year deal for a reported transfer fee of €14 million.
“The coach felt he wanted a physical presence in attack,” an Al-Hilal official told Arab News.
“Gomis adds something different to the team and gives options that maybe we were lacking before.”
Gomis, who had two seasons with Swansea City in the Premier League from 2014-16, was especially prolific for Lyon and Marseilles in France, before his move to Galatasaray last season.
“The transfer window has been a satisfactory one for us as we have added some real quality to the team that won the title last season,” added the official.
“Don’t forget the players that are coming back from injury. The challenge for the coach is to be keeping all the players happy.”

 


That may be a major job for coach Jesus . There have been rumors in Saudi Arabia that star Syrian striker Omar Khribin is unhappy about starting last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Al Ittihad in the Super Cup final on the bench.
The 2017 Asian Player of the Year came on with just 11 minutes remaining to replace Venezuela attacker, and goalscorer, Gelmin Rivas.
Gomis adds to the already stiff competition up front and is the fourth foreign signing to join the two-time continental champions this summer under the new presidency of Sami Al-Jaber.
Former Barcelona center-back Alberto Botia has reinforced the defense with Peruvian international winger Andre Carrillo arriving from Portuguese giants Benfica.
The big prize of the summer was the signature of United Arab Emirates playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, who joined on a season-long loan from Al-Hilal earlier this month.
The 2016 Asian Player of the Year made his debut for the club in the Super Cup final.
Al-Hilal, who also have Brazilian attacking midfielder Carlos Eduardo available again after injury, kick off the new season at home to Al-Feiha on Aug. 31.

 


Inquest begins at LA Lakers as LeBron James misses out on NBA playoffs

Updated 56 min 22 sec ago
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Inquest begins at LA Lakers as LeBron James misses out on NBA playoffs

LONDON: The post-mortem on Los Angeles’ Lakers season has begun after the storied franchise missed out on the NBA playoffs for a sixth consecutive year this weekend.
It was not meant to be like this, especially after the signing of LeBron James — the man who single-handedly dragged his hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers to a championship in 2016 and was instrumental in Miami Heat’s dominance in the first half of the decade.
James’ mercurial talent was often the difference for those two franchises in clutch situations throughout the season, but for all the fanfare on his arrival at the Staples Center last summer, the “James Effect” has failed to materialize in California.
He has often called his own superhuman efforts in the run up to — and during — the postseason the “Playoff Mode,” but even the genius of James was not enough to put his new franchise into the picture.
It did not help that as soon as it became clear they were not going to be appear beyond April 10, made all the clearer by a recent humbling defeat to the league’s worst team (New York Knicks), James has been benched more and more by the management.
And it speaks volumes about the problems at the Lakers that it will be the first playoffs without James featuring since 2005. Not only had he played in the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, he had also played in eight straight NBA finals.
Granted, James — a three-time NBA champion and four-time league Most Valuable Player — was adamant back in September that the task of rebuilding the Lakers, who had missed the playoffs for five straight seasons would be a long-term project.
“Obviously, I would love for the team to be in the post-season,” James said as soon as it became clear he and the team would miss out on the playoff party.
“But right now, it’s not the hand I was dealt, so you play the hand that you were dealt until the dealer shuffles the cards and you’re dealt another hand and can do that.”
So what has gone so terribly wrong with the Lakers this year?
A big factor was injuries, not only to James but to other key players, throughout the season.
Everything looked rosy for the Lakers toward the end of December when they thrashed reigning champions Golden State Warriors, but a groin injury to James was a sign of the bad run to come. In his 17-game absence, the Lakers won just six games.
Then Lonzo Ball sprained an ankle in January, leaving the Lakers defense very vulnerable while Brandon Ingram, who had been influential in the team reaching the dizzying heights of fourth place in the Western Conference, was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a blood clot in his arm. Those certainly were damaging injuries.
The Lakers, also, have built too much of the team and its tactics around James. They have a good core of young talent in Ball, Ingram and Kyle Kuzuma, but management has not utilized them nearly well enough. Instead, for the first half of the season definitely, there was too much focus put on James and he was expected to win games almost by himself. Even the greatest player of a generation needs help from time to time.
The boardroom has to take some responsibility, too. Letting players like Brook Lopez (having a remarkable season with this year’s huge surprise package the Milwaukee Bucks), Julius Randle who averages 20 points per game at New Orleans and Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell (picked as an All-Star this year) leave was a major mistake on the Lakers’ part.
There will need to be a big rethink in the off-season at the Lakers, but with James admitting a break from the high-pressure playoffs will give him time to “recalibrate body and mind,” you cannot rule out “King James” coming back better and stronger than ever to claim a fourth NBA title and bring back the good times to LA.