Omar Abdulrahman signing proves Al-Hilal have what it take for domestic and continental glory, says club official
Al-Hilal have hailed the capture of United Arab Emirates star Omar Abdulrahman as proof of their desire to defend their domestic title and win the AFC Champions League for the first time since 2000.
After a summer of chasing the 26-year-old star the Riyadh giants finally landed their man, announcing the year-long loan move late on Wednesday, with “Amoory” having arrived in the capital earlier on to be greeted by 100s of fans.
“We have shown that we are committed to bringing in the best players we can,” an Al-Hilal official told Arab News.
“We won the league title in May but since then we have been recruiting top-class players from South America and Europe, we have the best Saudi Arabian players and now we have the best player from our region.
“This signing shows that we want to become the best team in Asia once again.”
Abdulrahman, the AFC Player of the Year in 2016, has been the hottest property in West Asian football since he burst on to the scene at the 2012 Olympics. Born in Riyadh before moving to the UAE, “Amoory” has been linked with a move to European powerhouses such as Juventus, Manchester City and Barcelona.
His first overseas move however is to his hometown club that he supported as a boy. That did not, however, stop the transfer being protracted, complex and expensive.
Al-Hilal will have to pay around €15 million ($17 million) to Al-Ain and the player for just 12 months of his services, making the deal the second most expensive loan in the history of football after the €18 million it cost AC Milan to preside Juventus to loan them Gonzalo Higuain in July.
“We are an international standard team with international standard players and that means often you have to pay prices that reflect that,” said the official.
“With Abdulrahman, we can look forward to the season with confidence and excitement.”
The Al-Ain man, who is expected to make his debut against Al-Ittihad in the Saudi Super Cup in London on Aug. 18, is set to slot into the No. 10 role to replace Nawaf Al-Abed who continues to struggle for fitness.
With talents such as Omar Khribin and Carlos Eduardo in attack and a number of Saudi Arabia internationals, Al-Hilal can lay claim to have, on paper at least, the best squad in Asia in terms of attacking strength in depth. After finishing as runner-up in the 2014 and 2017 AFC Champions League, there is confidence that the team can again challenge for a third continental crown.
The addition of Abdulrahman comes less than a month after the Riyadh giants, now led by new president Sami Al-Jaber and new coach Jorge Jesus from Portugal, signed Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo, who scored for the South Americans at this summer’s World Cup.
It also marks a victory for Al-Hilal over Al-Nassr. The other Riyadh giants, who finished in third last season, have been especially busy in the transfer window and made a late bid to try and hijack Al-Hilal’s deal for the UAE star, offering more money.
That did not prove successful but Al-Nassr are still hopeful however of persuading Al-Hilal target Jonas Goncalves to don the yellow and blue. The prolific Benfica striker has, according to reports in Portugal and Saudi Arabia, been in talks with the team now led by Uruguayan coach Jose Daniel Carreno.
At the moment however, Al-Hilal fans are getting very excited about the new season which kicks off on August 30.