Sport | Football

Khalatbari joins Al Wasl in shake-up

Maradona gives up hopes of winning league title and vows to build a strong team for next term

  • By Ashley Hammond, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 January 5, 2012
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Al Wasl have signed 28-year-old Iranian attacking midfielder Mohammad Reza Khalatbari on a six-month loan spell from Qatar's Al Gharafa.

Coach Diego Maradona has promised big changes to his squad in the January transfer window after a disappointing run of results. The Argentine legend has already given up hopes of winning the Etisalat Pro League this season and instead wants to build for next term.

Maradona said: "It's normal to have ambitions of winning the title at the beginning of the season. But I have a project for two years. We're still challenging but not for the title. We are building a team with local talent and strong foreigners to strive for next year's title."

Reza said: "It's an honour to work under Maradona and it still feels like a dream, but I'm here to work hard and try to quickly gain a starting spot and win the confidence of fans, management and of course the coach."

Exits for Australian-Uruguayan forward Richard Porta, and Chilean attacking midfielder Edson Puch, look on the cards, with earlier names linked to the club being Iranian midfielder Ferydoon Zandi of Esteghlal and Argentine midfielder Juan Ignacio Mercier of Al Nassr Riyadh.

"Some players are committed to training with performances that honour the shirt but others are not taking their job seriously. They have not shown any improvement and have shown a lack of respect for their teammates. Those are the players who won't have a place in my squad," he said.

On his wish list is a central defender, a forward that can play off both feet, a physical winger and another out-and-out striker.

"Price is a major factor to sign players and Raul or Drogba would demand strong fees. We are working around a certain budget to build a strong team," he said.

Gulf News
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