Al Jazira close in on deal for Brazilian forward Leonardo from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

The Abu Dhabi club, who currently lead the Arabian Gulf League at the season’s halfway stage, are in pole position to sign the Brazilian.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors's Leonardo is set for a move to the Arabian Gulf League with Al Jazira. Yonhap / EPA
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors's Leonardo is set for a move to the Arabian Gulf League with Al Jazira. Yonhap / EPA

Al Jazira have emerged as front-runners to sign Leonardo, the Asian Champions League-winning forward from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

The Abu Dhabi club, who currently lead the Arabian Gulf League at the season’s halfway stage, could announce a deal within the next couple of days for his signing.

The Brazilian had already spoken to Al Ahli, and Al Ain had also reportedly registered an interest, but Jazira have moved into pole position to acquire him.

Leonardo, 30, was one of the standouts in this year’s Champions League, finding the net 10 times to finish as the tournament’s second top scorer.

His two goals in the first leg of the final against Al Ain helped Jeonbuk lift the trophy for a second time, with the South Koreans eventually prevailing 3-2 on aggregate.

Able to play as a second striker or out wide, Leonardo scored 40 goals in 160 K-League Classic matches since his switch to Jeonbuk from Greek club AEK Athens in 2012. During his four years in South Korea, he won the top-flight title twice, in 2014 and 2015, and the Champions League.

If he does complete a deal with Jazira, Leonardo is expected to take the place of Ailton Almeida, his compatriot who joined the club from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the summer transfer window.

At present, Jazira’s registered foreign contingent includes Almeida, Moroccan Mbark Boussoufa, South Korean Park Jong-woo and Brazilian Joao Carlos.

Jazira, UAE champions once previously, in the 2010/11 season, still have on the books striker Mirko Vucinic and attacking midfielders Thiago Neves and Angel Lafita.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Published: December 31, 2016 04:00 AM

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