Ambitious Al-Nassr raid Premier League for Nigeria star

Ahmed Musa has signed a four-year contract with Al-Nassr. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2018

Ambitious Al-Nassr raid Premier League for Nigeria star

  • Ahmed Musa becomes most expensive signing in Saudi Pro League history
  • He joins World Cup stars Amrabat, Ramos and Jones at the Riyadh club

Al-Nassr have smashed a Saudi Pro League record to sign Nigeria international Ahmed Musa.
The Riyadh club announced they have recruited the 25-year-old forward on a four-year deal after agreeing a fee with Premier League club Leicester City. Although the fee is undisclosed, respected website document the fee at €16.5 million ($19.14 million), which would eclipse the €10.24 million Al-Ahli paid for Djaniny last month.
It is easily an Al-Nassr club-record buy, beating the €9.8 million Al-Nassr paid Al-Ettifaq for Saudi Arabia international Yahia Al-Shehri in 2013.

Leicester paid CSKA Moscow a club-record £16.6 million ($21.4 million) for Musa in 2016 and even though he scored two goals in 21 games for the Premier League club, they were seeking to recoup their outlay on the forward and turned down a bid of £12 million last month.
Musa added to his value by scoring both goals for Nigeria in their World Cup win over Iceland in Russia.
He joins a remodelled Al-Nassr squad that has been boosted by the arrival of other World Cup participants Nordin Amrabat, Christian Ramos and Brad Jones.
The four summer signings reflect Al-Nassr’s bid to kick-on from their third-place finish last season and mount a challenge to Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal. Jose Daniel Carreno’s also have a two-legged playoff match to qualify for the Asian Champions League on the horizon.

Al-Nassr’s top five most expensive signings

Ahmed Musa £14.85m
Yahia Al-Shehri £8.82m
Nordin Amrabat £7.65m
Naif Hazazi £6.12m
Hernane £4.77m

Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

Updated 20 October 2020

Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

  • Barca have not won since 2015, but since then have never embarked on a new campaign amid so much disarray

MADRID: Despite managing to hang onto Lionel Messi, Barcelona begin its Champions League campaign with reduced expectations after one of their worst seasons in years.
The Catalan club appears to lack its confidence from previous seasons following an embarrassing elimination to Bayern Munich and a troubled off-season in which it nearly lost its talisman.

“Knowing what happened recently, we are not the top favorite,” coach Ronald Koeman said on Monday ahead of the team's debut in this season's competition against Hungarian club Ferencvaros. “But we are a team that can go far.”

Koeman arrived to put Barcelona back on track shortly after the 8-2 collapse against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which capped their first season without a title since 2007-08.

“Barcelona always plays to win titles, in the league and in Europe, but there are other strong teams,” Koeman said.

Barcelona have not  won the Champions League since 2015, but since then they had never embarked on a new campaign in the competition amid so much disarray.

The club avoided losing Messi after he said he wanted to leave, but it continued to endure political turmoil and even financial difficulties. President Josep Bartomeu is facing a censure motion that could force him to leave his post before the end of the year.

Koeman was given the task of revamping the first team, and he quickly got rid of veterans such as Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic, but the club failed to bring in any of the players he wanted in the transfer window.

Koeman said Messi is fine despite scoring just once so far this season.

“Maybe his performance could be better, but I see him happy,” Koeman said. “I see him training well and focused. I have nothing to complain about him in that sense.”

He said “a bit of bad luck” has played a role in keeping the Argentina star from scoring more goals so far. Koeman also downplayed criticism of Antoine Griezmann for his recent poor performances, though he admitted that “everyone in the attack” can improve.

Barcelona opened the Spanish league with two convincing wins under Koeman, but then it drew 1-1 with Sevilla at home and lost 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday.

Hungarian champions Ferencvaros return to the Champions League for the first time since 1995. They needed to get through four qualifying rounds to reach the group stage.

The other Group G teams are Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv.

“We want to start with the right foot,” Koeman said. “We want to win the match and gain tranquility.”