Al Ahli star Grafite puts family ahead of Germany return

Published June 7th, 2012 - 12:36 GMT

Former Wolfsburg striker Grafite has been tempted with an offer to return to Germany by Hertha Berlin, but Al Ahli have denied that the Brazilian could be leaving the Rashid Stadium in the summer.

Hertha Berlin’s offer was made in the January transfer window and is still valid for the 2009 Germany Player of the Year, whose contract with Al Ahli expires in June 2013.

Grafite, who scored 29 goals in all competitions for the Red Knights last season, is a crowd favourite and is happy with life in Dubai.

A source at the club told Sport360°: “He is very much one of our players and has a contract until the end of next season, which we know he will honour.”

Grafite admits it’s family first for him now.

“I want to stay here for a year or two longer, before I put my career first.

“But now I’m thinking more about my family and the school my daughters go to,” said the 33-year-old striker, who revealed interest had also arrived from France, Germany and Turkey.

He added: “Hertha Berlin gave me an offer during the January transfer window and now they want to talk to me again, but working here was good and it met my expectations.

“My family’s settled and happy here and I hope to stay with Al Ahli because I have a contract, but I need to settle some issues relating to it and will discuss with the president of the board of directors.”

Grafite, however, admits he is disappointed with low turnouts in the UAE.

“When you play in front of 40,000 spectators and then in front of 200, it’s strange,” said Grafite. “People say it is easy to play in the UAE, but the championship is getting stronger with players like Asamoah Gyan, Ricardo Oliveira and Luca Toni and some well-known coaches here now.”

Al Wahda

Meanwhile, Sport360° understands incoming Al Wahda boss Branko Ivankovich met senior club officials in Abu Dhabi last night to discuss potential transfer targets.

Wahda’s summer shake-up has already got under way with Gabonese striker Eric Mouloungui and Jordanian defender Anas Bani Yaseen joining.

The four-time UAE champions are believed to be targeting another striker as well as a defensive midfielder to replace outgoing Brazilian Magrao.

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