Emmanuel Emenike says he is not concerned about having to replace Asamoah Gyan at Al Ain.
The Nigeria international, 28, was introduced to the media at the Khalifa International Stadium on Friday night having completed a one-year loan deal from Fenerbahce, the Turkish Super Lig side. The Arabian Gulf League champions have the option to make permanent the contract.
Emenike has been charged with leading Al Ain's attack for the 2015/16 season after Gyan transferred this week to the Chinese Super League, signing a hugely lucrative deal with Shanghai SIPG. Al Ain are believed to have banked €20 million (Dh81.3m) from the sale.
Succeeding Gyan represents a daunting proposition, given the Ghanaian’s record in UAE football. In four seasons at Al Ain, Gyan scored 128 goals to help Al Ain clinch three league championships, while he secured the competition’s Golden Boot in his first three years here. He also notched the winner in the 2014 President’s Cup final.
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However, Emenike remains unperturbed, with the former Spartak Moscow striker referencing his performance at the 2013 African Cup of Nations in which he finished joint top scorer to fire Nigeria to a third continental crown. Last season was not his finest, though, since he scored only four goals in 27 league appearances as Fenerbahce finished second in the Turkish top flight.
“Gyan is a very good player and I’m here to replace him, so I hope I do well,” Emenike said. “Replacing him does not worry me. He has achieved a lot in his career, but I have also achieved a lot. I’ve won the African Cup of Nations.
“I’ve scored goals and I’ve won trophies in Turkey. Last season was not the best season for me, but I made a big impact in other ways, making assists, as well as scoring a few goals.
“I’m here to win more trophies. Al Ain has a reputation as a winning club so I’m here to achieve good things and win more trophies in my career.”
Emenike, who has been awarded the No 9 shirt at Al Ain, becomes the Garden City club’s third foreign signing of the summer, following the acquisitions of Ryan Babel and Fellipe Bastos. Lee Myung-joo completes their expatriate roster.
Emenike said he is most looking forward to playing alongside Omar Abdulrahman, the UAE national team playmaker who developed an excellent understanding with Gyan.
“It will be great to play with a player like him because he is a great player and a great midfielder,” Emenike said. “I’ve watched some games and in most of them he gave a lot of good passes to Gyan. He has great vision and I think I will work really well with him. We will work hard in training to see how we’re going to play together.”
Meanwhile, Al Ain are assessing a number of offers for Jires Kembo Ekoko. The French-born forward was an integral member of last season’s title-winning side, scoring 11 goals, but is now deemed surplus to requirements.
Mohammed bin Bdoua, an Al Ain board member, said: “The player is still under contract and has one season remaining, but we have received offers from some clubs expressing an interest in signing him. We are currently studying these offers in consultation with the player and his future will be determined in the coming period.”
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