FOOTBALLShikabala agrees to join Al Wasl on loan
Dubai club beat Turkey’s Besiktas in race to offer sanctuary to ousted star
Dubai: Zamalek’s Mahmoud Abdel Razek, known as “Shikabala” or the Zinedine Zidane of Egypt, has agreed in principle to a year’s loan spell at Al Wasl, according to his agent.
The 26-year-old attacking midfielder is contracted for two years at the Egyptian Premier League club, but coach Hassan Shehata has refused to play him since a sideline bust-up between the pair in May.
After a €1.8 million (Dh8 million) loan move to Napoli fell through in June, Turkey’s Besiktas offered €300,000 with a €2.5 million option to extend, but Al Wasl are believed to have clinched a deal at €600,000.
Shikabala, a member of Egypt’s 2010 Africa Cup of Nations-winning squad, also won the African Champions League title with Zamalek in 2002 and has scored 41 goals in 171 games for the club over two spells either side of a two-year stint at Greek club PAOK where he played 23 and scored four. Al Wasl coach Bruno Metsu, who took his first training session at the club on Tuesday, spoke with caution about prospective imports, with the club also linked to 24-year-old Moroccan striker Yassine Salhi of Raja Casablanca.
Meanwhile, earlier interest in Salhi’s teammate and compatriot Esmail Belmaalem, a 24-year-old defender, has ended after the player reportedly joined Bani Yas on loan.
“We are looking at a number of names but there’s no confirmation on any deal as yet. Top of our list of priorities will be a striker,” said Metsu.
“I’m looking to build a strong team and from day one I will be evaluating fitness and a mental willingness to succeed. These are very important attributes and they will decide who stays.”
Metsu added: “This is my first day, but I’m quickly understanding the arrangements concerning our budget and I will work according to that. We need a lot of players but it all depends on the budget.”
A club spokesman said any reported deal between Al Wasl and Shikabala was just speculation at this stage. But talk surrounding the club’s interest in the player has been rife since the end of last season.
Retained Argentine playmaker Mariano Donda and Omani defender Mohammad Shaiba, back from a loan spell at Al Wahda, were the only two foreigners in an intense 29-man training session. In what Metsu has called a review period for all players, Al Wasl are lining up two friendly matches before a European tour from August 22 to September 7, the details of which are unconfirmed.
Elsewhere sources close to Al Ahli have suggested 30-year-old Cameroonian attacking midfielder Achille Emana is set to stay at the club, following last season’s loan spell from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal. If confirmed Emana would be the fourth player under coach Quique Sanchez Flores to have been retained from their 2011/12 Etisalat Cup winning campaign after Grafite, Yousuf Mohammad and Luiz Jimenez. Jimenez reportedly turned down a summer move to Italy’s Sampdoria for €3.5 million in order to realise “ambitious plans” with the club.
Emirates Club have also closed their four foreign player allocation with the signing of 27-year-old Paraguayan midfielder Nestor Ortigoza. He joins Ivorian midfielder Modibo Diarra and strikers Hassan Matouq of Lebanon and Argentina’s German Herrara.