Gyan’s UAE move could revive a nation entranced by beautiful game:

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The news late on Saturday that Asamoah Gyan would sign a record £6m loan deal with UAE minnows Al-Ain shocked many Black Cats and football fans across England and even boss Steve Bruce who had 48 hours previously spoken with the player and was under the elusion all seemed well.

Within 24 hours all would soon change and rather dramatically so. The UAE Pro-League’s latest foreign venture had arrived in shape of the Ghanian international who on 1st September said of transfer talk surrounding him: “I do not want Sunderland fans to think I am not happy in Sunderland. I am happy with Steve Bruce who invested so much money in me and I will need to repay his faith.” Bruce has for a period of time before Gyan’s departure spoken of his displeasure of reported agents ‘turning the boys head’ after a man of the match performance for Ghana and a goal in a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley back in March, which prompted rumours of interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

‘Parasites’ as Bruce refers to agents in the game as, are if you read not only this story but similarities can be made of Raul Meireles move to Chelsea, where pay disputes at Liverpool caused friction and even the Luka Modric saga, again an example of ‘turned heads’ with Harry Redknapp often exasperated by the constant questioning of whether his Croatian playmaker was staying or going, all of which are in length not only ruining the game, but behind the scenes engineering it.

Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn has suggested Gyan may still have a future at the club, Bruce has indicated he doesn’t. This is hardly the sort of club togetherness Mackems want to hear amid reports Bruce is close to the sack for his poor start to the season and debatable transfer window purchases.

Gyan, lets not forget only signed last season for a club record £13m and after 34 games for the club and mere 10 goals in the North-East, he leaves to join the UAE Pro-League outfit for a speculative salary of £200,000 a week and this should help him get his ‘head right’.  It’s no doubt the extravagant lifestyle and weather in Abu Dhabi was a simple pro to the obvious Wearside weather and habitat cons.

I feel I am most qualified to comment on this move because I grew up in the Middle East from the early 1990s onwards and often followed my ‘local’ club in Al Wasl FC, a formidable side, now managed by the imperious Diego Maradona. The Zabeel Stadium in Dubai was rarely ever full for games back then, but a sudden shift in how the UAE runs the professional game has enticed nationals to enjoy the fruition of local football, in a nation which is entranced with the beautiful game but rather more poignantly the European one on television. With their near neighbours Qatar winning their bid to host the 2022 World Cup, many in the region feel it has helped to put the area on the map for more reasons other than tourism.

The satirizing of the UAE Pro-League in the UK press and by Bruce is a little unjustified, considering the sheer hard work of organisers to promote football in the Middle Eastern region, not every country in the world is blessed with footballing talent and leagues such as La Liga and the Premier League and you have to start somewhere. Some big names moved over in the noughties notably Fernando Hierro, Frank Lebeouf, and Gabriel Batistuta to play in the Qatari league. And now the UAE with the signings of Gyan, French forward David Trezeguet who has joined Baniyas and Al Ahli have captured Grafite (Edin Dzeko’s strike partner at Wolfsburg) as a country which has the world’s tallest building and only 7-star hotel on the planet now look to emulate their neighbours.

Yet the opportunity to make a fast dirham (local currency) in the receding caducity of these players’ careers is clear, however where the UAE differs to Qatar is the considerable amount of stars moving to help develop the league and acute comparisons to David Beckham and Thierry Henry’s moves to the USA can be made. Ex-West Ham players Lucas Neill and former loanee Luis Jimenez have both acted as the prerequisite for Gyan by moving from the ‘best league in the world’ to possibly one of the worst. Not to mention the plethora of Brazilians plying their trade in the league which currently stands at 15.

The signature of Asamoah Gyan, a World Cup quarter-finalist serves to many as exceptional business by Sunderland, but it could turn out to be a sagacious move by Al-Ain and the UAE Pro-League, giving the sport in the country the exposure it so badly needs will only prove to FIFA where cash is king, that football in the Middle East is on the up. Abu Dhabi and Dubai see the game as just the beginning of their plans to bring sporting events such as the Olympics in 2024 to coincide with their other sporting projects; the Dubai Open, Race To Dubai finale and FIFA World Club Championships already taking place in the region. As outlined with the heavy spending reconstruction of the likes of Manchester City, its clear they mean business. The sport’s governing body will too envisage such audacious commerce as further justification to their plans in 2022.

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1 comment

  • Fred says:

    Sorry dude, your wrong. Footballers will only move their for money, thats the soul fact of the matter. Theres no football culture, no history, nothing. Its pure greed – If their league ever exceeds any European league I will not be the only one giving up on the “beautiful game” – because then all it will be is the “money game.”

    Gyan has let all footballers in the world down, has let his country (TRUE FOOTBALL FANS may I add) down, and most of all himself down. Hes a money grabbing scumbag, who should not be allowed anywhere near a top flight football team again. Go be a popstar Asamoah – you’re a disgrace

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