Denilson eyes long-term stay with Al Wahda

Published July 20th, 2015 - 12:22 GMT

Former Arsenal midfielder Denilson insists he isn’t the type of player to move to the Middle East purely for money and is looking forward to a long association with Al Wahda and the UAE following his unveiling on Sunday.

Al Wahda signed Denilson on a three year deal for €3 million from Sao Paulo, where he had been playing since 2013. He is set to earn €1.8 million per year.

“I came here not to play for one or two years but I came here to play for as long as I can,” said the Brazilian, who was officially presented to the media.

“I know UAE football is growing every year and, thanks to my agent, I’m here now,” added Denilson, who arrives in place of Adil Hermach, the Moroccan international who spent more than a year and a half with Al Wahda.

“I would like to promise all the Al Wahda fans that I will be playing to the best of my ability and giving my best. It is a new challenge for me but I have heard good things about the league and I’m very much looking forward to it,” said the 27-year-old, who spent five years with Arsenal.

In 2011, Arsenal and Denilson mutually terminated the player’s contract following his loss of form and the emergence of Jack Wilshere. Since then Denilson has been with Sao Paulo and is the third player to leave the club this summer after Rodrigo Caio made the move to Valencia and Paulo Miranda switched loyalties to Red Bull Salzburg.

“Well I was playing as a defensive midfielder in Sao Paulo, but with Arsenal I was playing as an attacking midfielder and that is what I prefer and I’m looking to do here. I had a few chats with our coach [Javier] Aguirre and I’m looking forward to a similar role in the team,” said Denilson, who captained Brazil at Under-15 and Under-17 level and also led them to the runners-up spot in the 2005 Fifa Under-17 World Cup.

Last season Al Wahda finished fourth in the Arabian Gulf League and suffered a shock defeat to lower-league side Dubai FC in the third round of the President’s Cup. They have a new coach in Mexican Aguirre for the new season and, after a week of training, Denilson was of the view that he was getting into the scheme of things.

“I have started understanding the process here and, though I have not taken part in full training, I’m happy with what I have seen so far. I have played against Aguirre’s Atletico Madrid, when he was their coach, and I rate him highly,” said Denilson.

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