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.

 


Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

Updated 09 July 2020

Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

ROME: Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the Scudetto, AC Milan decided returning to the pinnacle of football required a new approach.

Jay-Z’s entertainment agency Roc Nation is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans.

And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team that just won their league for the first time in 30 years?

“We have been talking to Liverpool,” Milan chief revenue officer Casper Stylsvig told The Associated Press, “because they’ve been through the same path as we are going through now.”

Milan are enduring their longest Serie A drought since the 1980s. Despite beating leader Juventus on Tuesday, even the top four Champions League places are out of reach in this pandemic-delayed season. It’s been seven years since Milan last competed in Europe’s elite competition.

“We’re working very hard to get back to where we should be, and from that perspective, it does help open doors when you have won seven Champions Leagues,” Stylsvig said. 

“Playing European football is top of the agenda. It is our natural habitat and somewhere we should be.”

Only Real Madrid has lifted the European Cup more often than Milan. But that seventh title was won 13 years ago, by beating Liverpool.

Now Liverpool are the lodestar for Milan, which have fallen to 21st in the Deloitte ranking of football’s moneymakers with revenue of €206.3 million  ($234 million) in the last financial year, a third of the income at the newly crowned Premier League champions.

“Four, five years ago, no one considered Liverpool and see where they are now,” Stylsvig said. “They obviously play very attractive football. They are winning, they have a fantastic manager, a fantastic team and now they are following suit from a commercial perspective. It has taken time, but their model seems to work.”

Liverpool have been run for a decade by John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. Milan have also had American ownership for three years since the takeover by the Elliott Management hedge fund.

“We are obviously a global brand,” Stylsvig said in a telephone interview. “I’ve probably been talking too much in the Italian market in the last few years and (the coronavirus) sort of pushed us to think more global again.”

The pandemic that shut down sports produced the first public manifestation of the partnership with Roc Nation when Milan staged a live virtual fundraising concert headlined by Alicia Keys.

“I do think merging sport and entertainment could be the way of engaging new fans,” Stylsvig said. “The world has changed dramatically and we need to follow suit. Roc Nation is helping us, challenging us with that, having someone on the sideline to do that.”

The biggest audiences logging in to watch “From Milan with Love” were from China and the US.

With no games being played during the three-month Serie A shutdown — and crowds still prohibited from matches — Milan have had to find new ways of connecting with its fan base and fulfilling commercial deals.

“It’s been incredibly challenging,” Stylsvig said. “You basically have to rethink the model. So one of the first things we did was focusing much more on a digital space, creating content and trying to be engaging and trying to talk to our partners.”

Further down the line is moving into a new stadium, with plans to rebuild the San Siro it shares with Inter Milan.

“That will change the club,” Stylsvig said. “The revenues are incredibly important but also for the perception of the club.”