Dreaming of a move to one of Europe's top clubs during the summer, Asamoah Gyan, Ghana international, will instead spend the next season with Al Ain in the UAE.
Al Ain announced a one-year loan deal for the Sunderland striker yesterday, putting an end to the speculation surrounding Gyan, 25, in recent months. He had been linked with the likes of Tottenham, Real Madrid, Marseille and a series of Turkish clubs.
“I will continue to wear my favourite No 3 jersey at Al Ain as I begin a new adventure, but with Sunderland still ingrained on my heart,” Gyan was quoted as saying on ghanasoccernet.com.
Al Ain were keen for a permanent deal, but Sunderland were prepared to agree only to a temporary move. The striker arrived in the country last night to complete the formalities, and he will be presented to the fans in the coming days.
“This is a very important deal and should strengthen the team for the season ahead,” said Mohammed Abdullah bin Bdoua, a member of Al Ain’s board of directors. “Gyan should be ready physically and technically, because the English Premier League started almost a month ago. So he is ready to join the team straight away.”
Gyan becomes the latest high-profile player to join the domestic league since the end of last season, joining Grafite at Al Ahli and David Trezeguet at Baniyas, among others. The biggest name to join the league is Diego Maradona, the coach at Al Wasl.
Gyan arrived at Sunderland last year from the French club, Rennes, in a club-record £13 million (Dh76m) switch after an impressive show at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
He became a big hit with the club’s fans, scoring 12 goals last season until, according to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, agents turned his head, especially after he scored for Ghana in a friendly against England.
With Gyan reluctant to stay on with the Blacks Cats, Al Ain came in with an offer after the Europe transfer window had closed.
Bruce said he was disappointed by Gyan's decision, and believes the striker will never play for Sunderland again.
“He can [envisage returning to Sunderland], but I can’t see it,” said Bruce after his side’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea yesterday.
“He’s been unsettled now, if we are being brutally honest, for weeks and months.
“Real Madrid was the first one, which I laughed at five months ago, but it started with that, and it’s ended up with the UAE. If you don’t want to play for the team and play for the club and play for the jersey, then what’s the point?
“We decided to cut the best deal possible and we move on.”
He added: “People surround themselves – agents going to visit them, five of them on Monday going to visit him in his hotel room, threatening him and the rest of it.
“Who knows? Who knows what’s gone on around him?
“I had a conversation with Gyan 48 hours ago with his agent. He shook me by the hand, [and said] get on with it, he wanted to play here, stay here, because the nonsense had gone on for too long.
"I will let everybody else make their conclusions. To go and leave the Premier League for the UAE, I will let you make your own conclusion to that."
The National Sport