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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 announced yesterday evening after a meeting that they had rejected all offers for their 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, where he scored two goals in four matches in the UAE.

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.”

Al-Shurta stated 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 insiders the bids for the striker were in the region of €600,000 to €800,000 Euros. 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.

One reliable source has revealed the offer tabled by Turkey’s Galatasaray was much lower than the €2m Euros reported by Iraq’s Al-Mada Newspaper. The exact offer, made 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.

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.

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.

Al-Shurta explained the 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 Ali – with five goals in nine league matches – 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.