Asamoah Gyan, the former Al Ain striker, is set for a return to the Arabian Gulf League, with current champions Al Ahli.
The Ghana captain, who joined China’s Shanghai SIPG from Al Ain last summer, is expected to replace Moussa Sow, with UAE football’s record buy reportedly close to agreeing a loan deal with former club Fenerbahce.
Gyan’s move to Ahli, also on loan, comes as a shock given his previous connection to rivals Al Ain. In four years with the Garden City side, he scored 128 goals in 123 matches to secure a number of major honours.
His 95 goals in 83 league matches from 2011-15 helped Al Ain clinch three top-flight titles. Gyan won three Golden Boot awards and scored the winner in the 2014 President’s Cup final against Ahli. In 2014, Gyan was the Asian Champions League’s top scorer with 12 goals. He is also Ghana’s record goalscorer, with 48.
Whether Gyan, 30, can recapture that form at Ahli remains to be seen. In his final season with Al Ain, injury restricted his output, although he still managed to score 13 goals in 17 league appearances. He struggled at Shanghai despite being one of the club’s highest earners, finding the net seven times in 15 appearances. Again, he was affected by injury.
Nevertheless, Gyan has been linked with a number of clubs this summer, including former employers Sunderland, West Ham United, Fulham and Reading in England, and Besiktas in Turkey. Earlier this week, it was reported he had failed a medical at Reading, which the Ghanaian later appeared to deny on his official Twitter account.
At Ahli and Gyan will again link up with Cosmin Olaroiu, his manager for two seasons at Al Ain. It is understood the Romanian’s presence was the deciding factor in agreeing to a return to the UAE.
Should Gyan pass a medical and the transfer go through, the striker will take Sow’s place in the squad. The Senegalese forward, who joined from Fenerbahce last September in a record €17 million (Dh70m) deal, scored 13 times in 24 league matches to ensure Ahli were crowned champions for the second time in three seasons. It is understood, though, that he will return to the Istanbul club, initially temporarily with the view to a permanent switch being struck if the move proves a success.
At present, Sow, Rodrigo Lima, Everton Ribeiro and Kwon Kyung-won form Ahli’s foreign contingent. Last season, the Dubai side finished nine points ahead of runners-up Al Ain in the league. They kick off their title defence on September 17, at home to Emirates club.