Portugal winger Ricardo Quaresma insists he can’t wait to get back to doing what he does best — playing football — after being unveiled as an Al Ahli player on Wednesday.
The former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea attacker moved to Dubai on a free transfer after being released by Turkish club Besiktas last month. The 29-year-old had been frozen out in Istanbul after reportedly refusing to accept a pay cut last summer, before having his contracted terminated six months early.
Dubai’s Al Ahli wasted little time in the January transfer window, bringing in the 36-times-capped star as a replacement for Cameroon midfielder Achille Emana.
“I’m very happy to be here as part of Al Ahli and in Dubai,” he told media at the Red Knights’ Rashid Stadium. “I’m now looking forward to working very hard with my teammates to win trophies and achieve the aims of the club. I have a strong desire to start work right away and give my best for the club.
“I don’t know too much about the league or the club, but most important is to work and do what I really like, which is play football.”
Quaresma has in the past struggled to settle at clubs away from his home country — where he was a success with both Sporting Lisbon and Porto — but Al Ahli CEO Ahmad Khalifa Hamad said the club aren’t concerned about his temperament and are lucky to have him.
“That was not a consideration. A player who has played for Barcelona, Chelsea, Milan — I think if he has played in the three biggest leagues in the world, it would be difficult for him to join those teams [if that was a problem]. That’s enough for us — and he’s one of the main players in the national team of Portugal.
“He must be the biggest-name signing in this window and maybe the whole year. I don’t know what will happen until December, but I think for 2013 he can be top of the names that join the league.
“We are very lucky to have a free agent player like this join us at this time — it’s very rare. He had problems with the Turkish team, I know they had some dispute and he finished his commitment with them, so he was available on the market.
“[Al Ahli manager] Quique [Sanchez Flores] wants him to be a success and one of the main players in the team.”
Quaresma joined the Besiktas from Inter in 2010 and made 46 appearances for them. He now joins an Al Ahli team who lie third in the Etisalat Pro-League, eight points behind leaders and defending champions Al Ain at the half-way stage.
The winger started his career at Sporting, where his pace and trickery earned him a reputation as one of Europe’s brightest prospects. That tempted Barcelona to pay â¬6 million (Dh28 million) for his signature in 2003, only for him to return to his homeland with Porto after just one disappointing season.
A successful four-year spell at the Estadio Dragao again put Quaresma on the radar of the continent’s biggest clubs and he moved to Milan for an â¬18.6m fee. He failed to settle at the San Siro, where he played under Jose Mourinho, and he was loaned out to Chelsea for six months before making the move to Turkey.