ABU DHABI // Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate says Omar Abdulrahman has the talent to play in any league in Europe, after witnessing first-hand the Al Ain playmaker on Sunday.
The Dutchman, who has previously coached at a number of European clubs including Barcelona, Chelsea and Ajax, was in the home dugout for Jazira’s 3-1 defeat to Al Ain at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
Abdulrahman played an integral role in the UAE champions’ victory, displaying his typical poise in dictating the tempo of the match. Captain for the night, he assisted Douglas for the Brazilian’s second goal, while Jazira struggled to contain the UAE midfielder for the majority of the game.
Ten Cate was not surprised, though.
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“He is a really good player, I enjoy watching this guy,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of Al Ain’s games on television. For me, they are the best team in the league, the way the play their football and their philosophy is fantastic. And this player is outstanding.
“In my opinion he can play in any league in Europe. Even as the coach of the opponent, I enjoy watching him play. He has so many touches; everything he does when he gets the ball alerts the whole stadium because you can expect something good is coming up. He’s a fantastic player.”
Abdulrahman, 24, has long been linked with a transfer to Europe and in the past has reportedly rejected offers from Arsenal and Benfica, with Manchester City, Valencia and Hamburg also linked. In February last year, shortly after starring with the UAE at the Asian Cup, Abdulrahman signed a new contract with the club, committing until 2018. Then, he said he would happily stay “for a lifetime”.
Al Ain, meanwhile, have always maintained they would be willing to let their prize asset leave, but only if the right deal could be struck for all parties concerned.
This season, Abdulrahman has again been one of the best players in the Arabian Gulf League and has scored four goals in 23 matches in all competitions. He does, however, lead in league assists, with 11 in 17 games.
“He’s the architect,” Ten Cate said. “He’s able to let other people score, he’s able to score himself. It’s a constant threat. There are a lot of teams and a lot of coaches in this league and nobody has been able to stop him so far.
“Every game, over and over again, he’s the key player on the pitch. Let’s enjoy him, let’s enjoy watching him and hopefully the next time we play against him he has a bad day, like every player sometimes does.
“And that then decreases Al Ain’s chances of winning as well, because the team is 20 per cent Omar. Then you have the rest. He’s really that good.”
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