Omar Abdulrahman to remain at Al Jazira: 'We consider him a very important part of our future'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Al Jazira have no intention of selling Omar Abdulrahman, as the club continue to look to strengthen their squad ahead of the new season.

Reports this week claimed the Abu Dhabi side were entertaining offers for the playmaker from clubs within the Arabian Gulf League, with champions Sharjah and ’s Al Nasr linked.

Abdulrahman, 29 this month, joined Jazira on a free transfer last summer following a lengthy spell on the sidelines because of injury, but went on to feature in all 19 league matches last season. The 2016 Asian player of the year, Abdulrahman is still considered the country's most talented player.

Speaking about the UAE international's future, Jazira’s new director of football, Mads Davidsen, said: “I can be very clear: Omar Abdulrahman is a very important player for us. For me, he’s one of the best players in Asia. Omar has a contract here and we consider him as a very important part of our future, so that’s it.”

Davidsen, whose past experience includes a successful spell in the Chinese Super League, attempted to sign Abdulrahman during his time as technical director at Shanghai SIPG.

Asked if the former Al Ain and Al Hilal midfielder would definitely be a Jazira player for the season ahead, Davidsen replied: “There are no other plans.”

Appointed in July, Davidsen’s remit at Jazira encompasses all age groups, from the academy through to the first team. The two-time UAE champions have two foreign slots remaining to fill in the senior squad, with manager Marcel Keizer saying last week that he would like to sign at least one winger.

Davidsen said a wideman could be an option, but that the focus was more on finding players in any position that could bring real value to the club. The Dane said he has been offered players from the top five leagues in Europe, but also emphasised a desire to develop the youth talent already at the club.

Last season, Jazira finished third in the curtailed league, while the 2020/21 AGL campaign, set to begin next week, was on Wednesday postponed until next month.

“In terms of foreign players, it’s actually quite simple,” Davidsen said. “It’s not that we’re not looking - we are definitely always in the market; we’re always looking can we strengthen our team. But we’re also critical. I’m quite critical in terms of recruitment: it has to be significantly better than what you have. You have to be as sure as possible.

A graphic detailing Omar Abdulrahman's statistics for Al Jazira this season. 

“We could bring in players tomorrow - I can guarantee you that I’ve been offered many players the last couple of months - so it’s not a problem. The problem is it has to be the right standard. It’s not because we don’t want to buy, we just have to be sure of what we’re getting.

“So it depends on what opportunities come out. And it’s a line between me and Marcel. We obviously analyse the squad and the league: what are the demands to play in the highest possible way in the league; how’s our team looking; how’s our future looking; how’s the academy. And in the end, what do we need to look for if there is anything.”

On adding to their already impressive Emirati contingent, Davidsen said: “We have top, top players on the local market, I have to say. Of course, we’re always looking to see what’s out there, but again, I have been really impressed with what the academy has done here.

“The average age of our squad now is below 24, so that gives you an idea that we are two or three years ahead of our peak time, which means you can buy peak players now of course, but then you will also not develop the players needed to peak in the near future. So we need to find this balance.”

Updated: September 3, 2020 03:07 PM

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