Al Wahda's Yahya Al Ghassani has talent to play in Europe but needs time to develop, says Sebastian Tagliabue

Argentine striker impressed with 21-year-old winger but says 'he needs to grow up a lot because he’s still young'

Al Wahda’s Yahya Al Ghassani (20) is challenged by two Al Wasl players in the Arabian Gulf Cup which Wahda won 3-0 on Sunday at the Zayed Sports City stadium. Courtesy Al Wahda.

Yahya Al Ghassani has the talent to play in Europe but still needs time to develop, teammate Sebastian Tagliabue says amid talks regarding a potential transfer for the youngster to either the Premier League or Bundesliga.

News emerged this weekend that several clubs are in negotiations with the Abu Dhabi side regarding the 21-year-old winger, with two unnamed teams in the German top flight and England’s Burnley cited.

Speaking to The National on Saturday, Al Ghassani said: "The talks are between the clubs… but if I get a break, I definitely would love to play in Europe. I'm 100 per cent ready."

Al Ghassani, born to an Emirati mother and a father who holds Tanzanian and Omani passports, joined Wahda at the beginning of last season on a one-year deal but, after impressing almost immediately, signed a contract until 2023. He went on to make 24 appearances, scoring four goals, although injuries limited him to seven matches during the second part of the campaign.

Sebastian Tagliabue, the Argentine striker, has been at Al Wahda since 2013. Pawan Singh / The National
Sebastian Tagliabue, the Argentine striker, has been at Al Wahda since 2013. Pawan Singh / The National

Experienced teammate Tagliabue, top scorer in last season’s Arabian Gulf League, said he believes Al Ghassani possesses the ability and mentality to thrive abroad, but added he needs more game-time to realise his potential.

“Yahya’s a very skillful guy, a fast guy - he can dribble two or three players at one time - and he knows how to finish. I like him a lot,” Tagliabue said. “But he needs to grow up a lot because he’s still young. A player grows up only if he plays.

“In the first six months he was doing really great, he was getting experience, was playing and every game was getting better and better. And then the second six months he got injuries and couldn’t continue.

“But if you leave Yahya for one year, one year and a half, he will be an amazing player.”

Asked if he thought Al Ghassani had the quality to play in Europe, Tagliabue said: “I can say yes now because I know him in training. But to say yes definitively he has to play one or two years in the first team.

“In his mind, he’s a professional. As teammates, I know he is professional and he wants to be one of the best players and play in Europe. This is the first thing that’s very good about him.

“And the second thing, I believe he has the quality. But now he has to show that. He needs more experience, like every player in the beginning.”

Tagliabue, who has scored 137 goals for Wahda to sit second on the all-time list in UAE football, said Al Ghassani was one of the most naturally gifted footballers he has seen in his six years in the Emirates.

“Of course,” the Argentine said. “Every game I joked with some defenders telling them ‘Yahya will kill you’. I made them afraid of him. “But, again, he needs a few games more to have confidence and to improve. And I repeat, I can yes because I’m his teammate and see him in training. But in games, he still doesn’t show a lot. That will take time.

"In my opinion, he has to stay one more year with Al Wahda, now he’s in very good fitness, to show himself and improve. And maybe after one year he can go try Premier League or the German league."