Manchester United target Everton Ribeiro on Al Ahli’s radar

Brazilian midfielder has not signed with Dubai-based Arabian Gulf League club, contrary to reports. John McAuley reports.

Everton Ribeiro, a Brazilian midfielder, has also been linked to Manchester United and Liverpool. Felipe Oliveira / Getty Images
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DUBAI // Everton Ribeiro, the Brazil international recently linked with Manchester United and Liverpool, has not signed an agreement with Al Ahli, despite reports in Brazil claiming a €7 million (Dh29.9m) deal has been finalised.

The Cruzeiro midfielder, 25, has featured on the radar of scouting networks worldwide since his breakthrough season in 2013, yet it is Ahli who were reported on Wednesday to have agreed a deal.

Reports in Brazil claim a transfer fee has been settled between Ribeiro and an unnamed club in Dubai, with the player’s agent adding that negotiations were complete. Of the four Dubai-based clubs in the UAE top flight, only Ahli have the financial clout to fund such a move.

However, The National understands that Ahli, having followed Ribeiro’s progress, do not have an arrangement in place.

Ribeiro, who was called up to the Brazil national team last year by coach Dunga, would be a coup for the Arabian Gulf League champions, but he is just one of several players who have been brought to the club’s attention.

One of the most coveted footballers in his homeland, he was voted Brazil’s player of the year for 2013 after leading Cruzeiro to the Brazilian Serie A title. Last year, the Belo Horizonte club retained the trophy with two rounds to spare. He has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with Manchester United and Liverpool reported to be interested.

Despite Cruzeiro denying the player is for sale, it is believed an offer of around €15m would be accepted.

“There is no intention to sell the player, the president has made that clear,” Valdir Barbosa, Cruzeiro’s general manager, told Brazilian radio. “He wants to strengthen the team for the Copa Libertadores, but sometimes things get tight. The player wants to move, the proposal is very good. Football, like it or not, is a business.”

Ahli, sixth in the league, are considering signing another foreign player before the transfer window closes. At the moment, Grafite, Carlos Munoz, Luis Jimenez and Oussama Assaidi – the recent acquisition from Liverpool – fill the four foreign spots, although the club may still look to replace Grafite. Ahli also have on their books Ciel, the Brazilian who suffered a broken ankle in September, and Iraqi midfielder Humam Tariq, who is on loan at Al Dhafra.

Ribeiro, who can play as a winger or behind the main striker, fits Ahli’s remit of signing young talent committed to the long-term development of the club. Alongside Al Jazira and Al Ain, Ahli are one of few UAE clubs able to offer Ribeiro a competitive financial package, which is understood to be around €4.5m per season.

“With respect to wages, it is not for us to discuss or enter into discussion with Everton Ribeiro or his attorney,” Barbosa said. “The €7m offered to Cruzeiro is far short of what the president wants. That I can say. Let’s wait.”

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