Al Jazira pack Dh65m Rafael Sobis off to Brazil

The forward signs for Internacional after the Abu Dhabi club ditch their Dh65m signing after two mediocre seasons.

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira have begun the overhaul of their first-team squad by moving Rafael Sobis, the Brazilian forward, back to his homeland. Sobis, 25, has rejoined his first professional club, Internacional, the 2008 Club World Cup winners, on a one-season loan deal with a view to a permanent move. "Al Jazira FC has successfully negotiated a deal that will allow striker Rafael Sobis to go on loan to Brazilian side Internacional," read a statement by the club yesterday.

"The player will be on loan for one season as part of the Abu Dhabi-based club's plans for the 2010/11 campaign. [He] is currently in Brazil as he prepares to join up with his new teammates." Jazira spent Dh65m to recruit Sobis from Real Betis in September 2008 after he has been linked with moves to the English Premier League. He was reunited with his former manager at Internacional, Abel Braga, the current Jazira manager.

Along with his compatriot Ricardo Oliveira, who was recruited a year later, Sobis was part of an expensively assembled forward line whose remit was to deliver a first UAE league title for the Abu Dhabi club. They fell short, finishing second for the third consecutive campaign, and although the club at least claimed the consolation of winning the Etisalat Cup, the Brazilian's impact was minimal. Last season he missed a large chunk of the campaign through injury.

In May, Mohammed Thani al Rumaithi, the president of Jazira's board of directors, bemoaned the impact of the club's foreign players, saying all but the Ivorian striker, Toni, would be replaced this summer. "We understand injuries to the players but they had enough time to prove [themselves] with some decent performances, and they didn't," Rumaithi said. The club's hierarchy were thought to believe Sobis had become unfit and overweight by the end of his stay in the capital.

The attacker, who has been capped eight times by his national team, hopes to feature in Internacional's Copa Libertadores' semi-final against their Brazilian rivals, Sao Paolo, starting later this month.However, Sobis is a long way short of full fitness and the Porto Alegre-based club have placed him on an intensive training schedule independent of the first team. pradley@thenational.ae