Despite reported denial, Al Ahli still ‘progressing’ toward Luiz Adriano deal, chairman says

Shakhtar Donetsk and Al Ahli agreed a deal for decorated striker Luiz Adriano, but the Brazilian reportedly declined the offer. Ahli chairman Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah however says the door hasn't been fully closed.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Luiz Adriano shown during a Champions League group match in October. Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters / October 21, 2014
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DUBAI // Al Ahli chairman Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah has reassured the club's fans that the deal to bring Shakhtar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano to Rashid Stadium is still alive despite reports to the contrary.

On Wednesday, a fee for the move of the player seemed to have been agreed between the two clubs, but it was reported after the weekend that the player had turned down the offer.

“I had tweeted about this, that we did have an agreement with Shakhtar,” Al Naboodah said in an Arabic television interview translated by The National. “Over the last three weeks we were close to a deal with the player. Things have changed a little over the last four or five days. But hopefully things are progressing to a positive resolution for Al Ahli.”

The chairman confirmed that the Arbian Gulf League club are looking to replace Luis Jimenez and Oussama Assaidi with a player who can perform at left wing or down the middle, but would not indicate his level of certainty the Adriano move will be concluded.

“I cannot give you a percentage,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s all down to money. We must get to a figure that’s acceptable for us and to the other party. It’s a matter of finances and hopefully in the coming days, things will become much clearer.”

Al Naboodah also expressed satisfaction with the state of the club and the job Cosmin Olaroiu, the manager, is doing, despite an inconsistent season.

“I don’t like to call it a season to forget,” he said, noting the club’s successes in the Asian Champions League. “This season we progressed for the first time from the group stages. We can’t belittle the effort of the players. They performed well in the second half of the season.”

The club remain fully behind the Romanian coach, with Al Naboodah insisting that the man the public see is not necessarily the one who works behind the scenes.

“If we weren’t completely convinced of his methods we wouldn’t have given him a contract extension,” he said. “You can be certain we have faith in his work and his ideas. These things will help in working with him in the coming period. A lot of people ask me ‘how do put up with him?’ – because the side they see of him is different to the one you see when you sit down with him. Believe me, he is a popular and decent character. Every successful coach in the world sometimes has actions that people don’t understand.”

Al Naboodah dismissed the idea that some of the job offers Olaroiu received during the season affected his performance.

“Cosmin is not that type of coach,” he said. “When he is focused on his work, whatever happens elsewhere doesn’t affect him.”

Now the chairman is looking forward to the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League against Naft Tehran.

“Our ambitions are big, but everything we’re doing is to be in the best possible shape for the away leg on August 25,” he said. “We cannot think further than that. Once we get over that match we will look towards the home leg on September 15. Through our conversations with the coach and players we know that even during their holidays everyone is thinking about the Champions League.”

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