Al Ain in hot pursuit of Sanchez

Udinese player Alexis Sanchez is likely to join his Chilean compatriot Jorge Valdivia in the Al Ain line-up in the new season. Sanchez, 20, has been linked with the Purples - to replace the Moroccan international Soufianne Alloudi - with Valdivia reportedly playing a key role in Al Ain's bid to bring the promising youngster in. Mohammed bin Thaloub al Derai, the club's prominent member of the board of directors, hinted that they were looking to sign up a player similar to Valdivia after the Chilean impressed in his first season at Al Ain.

As for Sanchez, he has 22 caps for his country and plays for the Serie A club Udinese on a four-year contract that has a £15 million (Dh89.1m) buy-out clause. He is also being pursued by English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Liverpool. Udinese chief Sergio Gasparin had already turned down an ?25m (Dh128.5m) bid from the German giants Bayern Munich. He grabbed his chances in Italy by making 32 appearances for his club. His performances for Chile have fired his nation to within touching distance of the 2010 World Cup finals.

The former Al Ahli coach Ivan Hasek was yesterday unveiled as the Czech Republic manager for the rest of the World Cup qualifying campaign. Hasek replaces interim coach Frantisek Straka. * With agencies

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