Asamoah Gyan apologized to fans of his former club Al Ain after signing for their Arabian Gulf League (AGL) rivals Al Ahli, on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Ghanaian striker joins the Red Knights on a season-long loan from China’s Shanghai SIPG.
Shanghai paid Al Ain a reported 20 million euros (Dh81.3 million) to sign the three-time AGL top-scorer in July 2015, but he struggled with injuries in China and scored just seven goals in 20 appearances.
It was marked decline from his four seasons in the Garden City from 2011 where he scored 95 goals in 83 appearances, winning three golden boots and three league titles with The Boss.
The former Udinese, Rennes and Sunderland forward is now hoping to rediscover his form in the UAE albeit with the club that Al Ain lost their AGL title to last season. “I’d like to say sorry to Al Ain fans,” he said. “For four years we had a good relationship but unfortunately I couldn’t go back. Now I have a new club and new challenge, what else can I say but ‘sorry’?
“I’ve spoken to my friends at Al Ain. Although they are disappointed, they understand and have wished me luck. We have a job to do on the field but outside of that we are still friends, I don’t think there’s any rivalry.”
One of Gyan’s main reasons for signing, he said, was to re-unite with his old Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu, who switched over to Al Ahli along with his technical staff back in July 2013.
Gyan was due to sign for English Championship side Reading but opted for Al Ahli instead after The Royals refused to release him for January’s African Cup of Nations with Ghana. Some reports suggested he failed his medical in England, but he has denied this.
Asked if his experience in China paid off, Gyan replied: “I would say yes and no, yes because anytime I was on the field doing what I do best, which is score goals, it was great. But injures didn’t allow me to do what I wanted to do. No player wants to stay out and when they get injuries they definitely lose a bit of form.
“I’m here to prove myself once again. The expectation will be much higher as people will be expecting me to do the same things I did four years ago. I cannot say I am perfect, but I’m here to work as a team, and so long as we work hard together I believe we will achieve what we want.”
As for when we can see him back playing, bearing in mind Al Ahli host Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf Cup on Wednesday, Gyan said: “When I was last in the UAE I played almost every game and I was all right — still moving. But in China I made some mistakes that I don’t want to repeat. So I will listen to the staff to see what they say.”