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

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.

 


Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

Updated 10 December 2019

Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

  • Injury-hit Reds have consistently leaked goals despite streaking clear at the top of Premier League

LONDON: Liverpool travel to Salzburg on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat to the confident Austrian champions to guard against an embarrassing Champions League group stage exit for the holders.

Jurgen Klopp's men are used to getting through to the knockout stages the hard way. In each of the past two seasons they have needed home wins to secure a place in the last 16 before going on to make the final.

However, the specter of a free-scoring Salzburg, led by the Champions League's top scorer in Erlin Braut Haaland spells trouble for an injury-hit Liverpool backline that has consistently leaked goals this season despite streaking clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds' recorded a first clean sheet in 14 games in Saturday's 3-0 win at Bournemouth, but lost another center back as Dejan Lovren limped off in the first half.

Should the Croatian miss the trip to Austria, Joe Gomez will be Klopp's only fit partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defense.

Van Dijk narrowly missed out to Lionel Messi in the battle for the Ballon d'Or last week in recognition of the transformative effect he has had on Liverpool's fortunes over the past two years.

But even the towering Dutchman has been incapable of stopping the steady flow of goals against in recent months.

Injuries have meant there has been a constant rotation of Lovren, Gomez and Joel Matip alongside Van Dijk, while the attacking impetus offered by fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold leaves space in behind to be exploited.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker also missed the first two months of the season due to a calf injury to further unsettle the backline.

The Brazilian is now back, but another injury to Fabinho has robbed the back four of the best player to protect them in the holding midfield role.

"I forgot how it feels, to be honest," said Klopp on finally ending the long wait for a clean sheet at the weekend.

"It's great, we should have them more often. It was the most-used word in the dressing room by the boys — "clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet."

"Obviously everybody was desperate for that, now we have it so let's have it more often.

"The next game where a clean sheet would be useful is already around the corner, against Salzburg on Tuesday."

That is easier said than done as Liverpool know from their first meeting with Jesse Marsch's men in October.

The hosts seemed to be cruising to another Anfield win in the Champions League as they raced into a 3-0 lead, but Salzburg hit back to level at 3-3 before Mohamed Salah's winner ensured Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller.

Salzburg have scored 87 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season, 28 of which have come from Norwegian wonderkid Haaland in just 21 appearances.

The 19-year-old started on the bench when the sides met at Anfield due to injury, but came on to inspire the visitors' revival in the second half and scored one of his eight Champions League goals.

"He's not the only threat from Salzburg but he's a proper one," said Klopp of the danger posed by Haaland ahead of the sides' first clash.

Salzburg need to win to make the last 16 on their first appearance in the group stage in 25 years.

A point would be enough for Liverpool to progress, but they need to win to secure top spot in Group E ahead of Napoli.

Given Liverpool's paucity of clean sheets and Salzburg's thirst for goals, attack would appear to be the best form of defencse for the European champions.