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Ahly open their wallet
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 20 - 12 - 2018

Contrary to expectations, Ahly failed to secure either the African Champions League or the Arab Champions Cup. In the Egyptian League as well, Ahly are slipping, in sixth place with 24 points from 12 games. They are 14 points behind all-time rivals Zamalek who are top of the table. Even if Ahly win their three postponed matches, they would still be five points behind the leaders.
The string of upsets for the powerful Egyptian football club is a strong indication that the team is in massive need of new and star blood.
Former Ahly players, football analysts and social media fans all agree that Ahly need to enter the January transfer market by digging deep into their pocket to be able to land big names that can help them in the upcoming competitions. There was also concurrence that Ahly lost their biggest star, midfielder Abdallah Al-Said, when he left last year for Ahly Jeddah.
Up until now Ahly have made four signings, including the young-talent Mohamed Mahmoud from Wadi Degla, a 20-year-old who cost the club around LE20 million. They also brought in the left back Mahmoud Wahid from Masr Al-Makassa.
Also, Ahly were able to land the Angolan international midfielder Geraldo Da Costa from Primiero de Agosto. The 27-year-old cost the club $600,000. Despite being signed by Ahly, Da Costa will not be able to participate in the current African Champions League competition as he played in the 32-round with his former club.
The last name Ahly signed was Ramadan Sobhi, who is coming back home from more than two unsuccessful years in England. Injuries and sub-par performances forced Sobhi out of most games with Stoke City and Huddersfield. He saw some playing time in the World Cup in Russia but has not been featured in the line-up of Egypt's Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.
Sobhi
Ahly signed Sobhi to a six-month loan deal worth $800,000 with an option to extend the loan in the summer.
It is clear that this deal is a win-win situation for both club and player. On one side, Ahly need a player like Sobhi who can be decisive in the attack. On the other hand, Sobhi needs to participate in many games and play well if he is to gain Aguirre's trust.
Ahly will try to recruit other players. Hussein Al-Shahat, who plays for Al-Ain of the UAE, is the most wanted by Ahly fans. The deal, which could cost Ahly around $5 million, may happen any time now. The player is already in Egypt where he is spending the holidays.
Despite the signings, it is painfully clear that Ahly still need at least three more players of note especially in the defence.
The club must look for players that have the same identity and mentality of Ahly's legends of long ago. Being a good player is simply not enough to make you a player for Ahly, voted by the African Football Federation the African Club of the Century.


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