Al Nasr close in on Al Ahli’s Luis Jimenez; eye Atletico Madrid’s Cristian Rodriguez

John McAuley reports on cup double-winning Al Nasr's summer movements, including the likely signing of Al Ahli stalwart Luis Jimenez.
Luis Jimenez shown competing with Al Ahli against Al Nasr in the President's Cup Final earlier this month, which Al Nasr won. Warren Little / Getty Images / June 3, 2015
Luis Jimenez shown competing with Al Ahli against Al Nasr in the President's Cup Final earlier this month, which Al Nasr won. Warren Little / Getty Images / June 3, 2015

DUBAI // Al Nasr expect to finalise the acquisition of Luis Jimenez from Al Ahli in the next few days, as the club seek to remodel their entire foreign contingent to help challenge for the Arabian Gulf League next season.

The Dubai side enjoyed a fantastic 2014/15 campaign in which they secured both the Arabian Gulf Cup and the President’s Cup, but have now shifted focus to securing a first top-flight title in 30 years. They finished fifth last season.

Captain Brett Holman has already been allowed to leave, with Nasr also looking to replace Ibrahima Toure, Renan Garcia and Pablo Hernandez. Jimenez, the Chile-born attacking midfielder, is seen as a direct successor to Holman, especially since he would qualify as the club’s Asian representative after obtaining Palestinian citizenship in 2013.

Negotiations are at an advanced stage, in what is believed to be a two-year deal. Jimenez, 31, spent the past four seasons at Ahli with great success, winning every major domestic honour. In the UAE top tier alone, he played 80 matches and scored 40 goals. His contract with the Rashid Stadium side expires this month, meaning Jimenez will move on a free transfer.

“The deal is not closed, but everything should be clear after Monday, or within the next two or three days,” a Nasr official said. “We’re confident it will go ahead.”

Nasr have identified a number of potential signings, confirming talks have taken place with representatives of Paraguay’s Edgar Benitez and Uruguayan winger Cristian Rodriguez. The South American duo are currently contesting the Copa America in Chile.

Benitez, a left-sided forward, scored in last week’s 1-0 victory against Jamaica, while Rodriguez struck the only goal in Uruguay’s opening Group B win – also against Jamaica – earlier this month​. The Atletico Madrid wideman recently endured two brief loan spells at Italy’s Parma and then Gremio in Brazil.

Benitez and Rodriguez are among a list of players provided by the Nasr board to coach Ivan Jovanovic. Ideally, the club want all signings to be completed by the time the squad returns for pre-season training later this month.

“All the names have been given to the coach and he’s making his choices,” the Nasr official added. “We’ll know our next move very soon. There are lots of possibilities being discussed with the coach – we are just waiting for him.”

Nasr, though, have denied they are considering a cash-plus-player proposal from Al Shabab for Toure. Reports suggested Shabab had offered Manei Mohammed and Hassan Ibrahim as part of a deal to recruit the Senegalese striker, who last season finished second in the league’s scoring charts with 18 goals.

Meanwhile, Nasr announced Monday that they have extended the contracts of forward Jamal Ibrahim and goalkeeper Abdullah Ismail, each for another three seasons.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Published: June 22, 2015 04:00 AM

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