Al Wasl have put a Dh100 million asking price on their Brazilian midfielder Fabio Lima after the player said this week could be his last at Zabeel Stadium.
Since joining from Brazil’s Atletico Goianiense in 2014, Lima, 24, has scored 62 in 77 appearances for The Cheetahs, including the first in their season-opening 2-2 draw away to Al Ain on Saturday.
After that game, he told Arabic media: “I have some offers to leave Al Wasl in the current summer transfer period. Next week may be the last for me.
“I have not renewed my contract because they do not want me to. I have more than two years left on my contract but I have some offers to move in the current period, maybe this day or later.
“I talked to the club management about it and they have some arrangements, generally within this week everything will be clear.”
Al Wasl executive director Mohammad Al Ameri denied the club had received any offers for the player but told Arabic media Lima would be available for Dh100 million.
Such an asking price is as good as blocking a move for the player, with the record sale by an Arabian Gulf League club being just over Dh80 million when Asamoah Gyan left Al Ain for China’s Shanghai in 2015.
“We have heard rumours that Al Wasl have received offers of up to Dh200 million to dispense with the player from local, GCC and Chinese clubs, but I can confirm no offer of that value has been received by the club.
“If we received an offer of Dh100 million, we wouldn’t hesitate to accept. Al Wasl is primarily a profit-seeking institution, and a large amount like that will definitely boost the financial side of the club.
“What I would like to emphasise is that if Al Wasl received an offer, whether for Lima or any other player, we would sell not only for our own financial interest but also the player’s, in recognition of his contribution to the team.”
Earlier this week, former UAE Football Association president Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi said the UAE national team should consider naturalising foreign players who have been playing in the UAE long-term but haven’t yet played for their native national teams.
Lima welcomed the call in theory but said in his own case he hadn’t given up hope of representing Brazil.
“I have the idea of going back to Brazil and playing for one of the big clubs there. That might help me join the Brazilian national team.
“I know there are a lot of good players in Brazil who have the qualifications to play for the national team, but that doesn’t mean I have to surrender.”
Lima leaving Al Wasl would be a massive blow for the club who reached second in the league last season — their highest finish in a decade — under new Argentine coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
Lima was Al Wasl’s highest scorer last season with 25 goals in 26 appearances and finished second behind Al Jazira’s Ali Mabkhout (33 goals) in the top scorers list. Al Wasl had seemed set to retain Lima and fellow Brazilians Ronaldo Mendes and Caio Correa in their foreign quartet this season along with Australian midfielder Anthony Caceres, who joined from Manchester City over the summer.
If Lima leaves, it remains to be seen who Al Wasl will be able to get in to replace the Brazilian before the October 2 transfer deadline.
By Ashley Hammond
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