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.”
— نادي الهلال السعودي (@Alhilal_FC) August 23, 2018
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.