Al Jazira have agreed the €11 million (Dh45m) transfer of Al Hilal playmaker Thiago Neves, according to reports in Saudi Arabia.
The Brazilian, one of the most prominent players in the Saudi Pro League, was linked with Dubai’s Al Ahli earlier this year, although a move to their Abu Dhabi rivals always appeared more plausible.
Neves, 30, previously represented Fluminense in his homeland, where he was managed by Abel Braga, the Brazilian expected to replace Eric Gerets as coach at Jazira next month. In 2011, Braga led the capital club to the league-and-cup double. He has reportedly signed a three-year deal.
The acquisition of Neves would constitute a significant coup for Jazira, as they attempt to improve on last season’s runner-up finish in the Arabian Gulf League. The attacking midfielder has considerable experience – in 2008/09 he spent a relatively uninspired spell with Hamburg in Germany – and has helped Hilal to multiple success during two stints with the Riyadh side.
In 2010, Neves starred as Hilal won the Saudi league and Crown Prince Cup, while he was integral to the team’s run last year to the Asian Champions League final. Neves featured in both legs of the semi-final against Al Ain, scoring in the initial encounter in Riyadh.
On Friday, he played the entire 120 minutes of the King Cup final victory against Al Nassr, successfully converting a penalty in the shootout. In all, Neves scored 60 goals and registered 31 assists in 112 matches for the Saudi club.
The transfer could mark the beginning of a busy summer for Jazira, with the club also thought to be close to signing Gervinho, the Ivory Coast forward, from Italy’s Roma. Manuel Lanzini and Jonathan Pitroipa, the duo recruited by Jazira last summer, would most likely make way.
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