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Asian Cup star Mohanad Ali to remain in Iraq until the end of the season

Iraq’s Asian Cup breakout star Mohanad Ali a target of some of Europe’s top clubs over the past few weeks will remain in Iraq until the end of the season despite offers from European giants Juventus and Benfica.

His club Al-Shurta after a meeting announced yesterday evening they had rejected all offers for the striker after they “failed to fulfil the ambitions.”

Mohanad Ali has been a target of some of Europe’s top clubs after his stunning performances at the Asian Cup in the UAE, where he scored two goals in four matches.

The reason given in the club’s statement for refusing the offers was due to the fact the transfer fees were “not in the financial value worthy of both the club and the player.”

It noted: “The club dealt with lies in various media outlets about the presentations of some clubs offering large sums of money amounting to $6 million dollars and stressed the financial offers were not meeting the ambitions appropriate to the high levels provided by the player.”

The offers

Al-Shurta revealed six clubs from Europe and the Middle East had put in bids for their prized possession. The clubs who submitted official bids were UAE’s Al-Ain, Portugal’s Benfica, Turkey’s Galatasaray, Belgian side KRC Genk, Greek club AEK Athens and Juventus of Italy.

According to an inside source the bids for the striker were “in the region of €600,000 to €800,000 Euros.” The same source, who wanted to remain anonymous, confirmed the player had “not received official offers from Scottish club Rangers or Germany’s Borussia Dortmund,” despite recent reports in the European press and added “realistically the player must go somewhere to play and not sit on the bench or play in the reserve team.”

Four days ago Serie A giants Juventus who were heavily linked with the Iraqi international offered €900,000 Euros and yesterday Al-Shurta’s board member Uday Al-Rubaie was quoted saying the Italians had offered “only €1 million Euros” indicating La Vecchia Signora may have returned with an improved offer.

The player is in high-demand and Yousif Al-Khafajy from the Iraqi Pro Players website says people around the national team and Al-Shurta “believe they have a rising star in Mohanad Ali who could potentially become a better player than Ahmed Radhi and Hussein Saeed, two of Iraq’s most prolific goal scorers.” Al-Khafayji also confirmed Juventus’ offer of €900,000 Euros for the Iraqi player.

One reliable source revealed the offer tabled by Turkey’s Galatasaray was much lower than the €2m Euros reported by Iraq’s Al-Mada Newspaper which according to them was “inaccurate and missing important facts.” The exact offer, tabled more than a week ago, was only €700,000 Euros. They also confirmed the Turkish Süper Lig club had dropped out of the race for the forward and were pursuing other options.

Record transfer

The record transfer fee for an Iraqi player stands at €2.2m Euros for Ali Adnan which was paid by Italian club Udinese to Turkey’s Caykur Rizespor in 2015 and Al-Shurta believe their young starlet was worth more than what was being offered during this January’s transfer window.

Coincidently there were reports Ali Adnan’s father and brother had gone to Al-Shurta’s headquarters yesterday to try and persuade the club to release Mohanad Ali and allow him to move to Juventus. Ali Adnan’s agent Christian Emile has been negotiating on the player’s behalf with representatives from the Italian club.

Iraqi transfers to the world’s biggest clubs is a history full of missed opportunities. During the 1977 FIFA World Youth Championship, legendary forward Hussein Saeed was offered a trial with Real Madrid, but the Iraqi delegation refused on the basis there was no professional football in Iraq. It was the same for the cases of Ahmed Radhi and Laith Hussein, who had contract offers from Uruguay’s Nacional and Catalan giants Barcelona, respectively, in the late 80s.

In 2008 the lack of a UK work permit scuppered a move to Manchester City for 2007 Asian Cup winner Nashat Akram. Whether clubs of the stature of Juventus, Benfica and Galatasaray will be back for Mohanad Ali in the summer is still up in the air, but this could be another missed opportunity.

Mohanad Ali has a contract with the Police Club which runs until 2020 and Al-Shurta explained the final decision was made for the striker to remain at the club until the end of the season as they look to challenge for the Iraqi League title. The club’s management believe Mohanad – with five goals in nine league matches so far this season- can play a key role in realising the dreams of the Qithara supporters of winning a fourth Iraqi league championship in their history and their first in five years.

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