DUBAI // Al Wahda are confident Papa Waigo will add "great value" to their side after confirming a two-year deal with the Senegalese striker.
Waigo, 28, a former Fiorentina and Southampton striker, had a number of clubs in Europe vying for his services, but Wahda beat the "fierce competition" to get their man after negotiations that lasted well over a month.
The French clubs Sochaux and Caen reportedly were interested in the 1.85m forward, who played for the Italia Serie B club Ascoli in the last season, scoring 15 goals in 40 games.
According to media reports, the Italian clubs Varese and Spezia, and Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia were in the mix, as well, after his impressive performance last season.
"It was a bit difficult with so many clubs interested in him, but we are glad we could eventually close the deal," said Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, the chairman of Al Wahda's board of directors.
Waigo, who has 15 caps for Senegal, has been playing in Europe since 2002, starting with Verona in the Serie A for three seasons. In 2005, he moved to Cesena in the Serie B, where he was the highest-scoring foreign player in the 2006/07 season.
He returned to the Italian top division with Genoa next season and then moved to Fiorentina in January 2008, who loaned him to the then-English League One club Southampton for the 2009/10 season. Waigo scored in the final of the Football League Trophy at Wembley and was the top scorer in the tournament as Southampton clinched the title.
"He has got so much experience," said Al Junaibi. "He has played in the top leagues of Europe … in England, in [Italy] and also for his national team. He is a class player, tall with a lot of pace and high potency in front of the goal.
"So he is certainly a great addition to the squad and will add great value to the team."
Wahda, the 2009/10 Pro League champions, are trying to rebuild their squad after failing to win any trophy last season and finishing sixth in the league.
Waigo is their third foreign signing. The first two were the Gabon international forward Eric Mouloungui and the Jordan defender Anas Bani Yaseen.
"We are now looking for one more player to complete the foreign quartet and he will be a midfielder," Al Junaibi said. "We have several names on the table and we will pick the one we believe is the best for our team."
Al Junaibi also said Wahda will be organising a friendly international tournament in mid-Ramadan, tentatively scheduled for August 10-16, to prepare the team for the new season.
"We are looking at several teams," he said. "Most of the top African teams are busy during that period because of their continental championships, so we are looking at all the options we have. But we will try to get the best possible teams."
The technical committee of Wahda also are considering Al Dhafra's loan request for three players - the defenders Omar Ali, Talal Abdullah and Mohammed Othman - and Al Junaibi said they will make a decision in the coming days.