Dubai: Al Wasl coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena is planning to pick Fabio Lima as normal for this Thursday’s home game against Emirates, despite the player saying this week could be his last at Zabeel Stadium.
Lima, 24, came out after Al Wasl’s league-opening 2-2 draw away to Al Ain last week, in which he scored, and said there were many offers for him and he could be off by the end of the week.
Al Wasl immediately put a Dh100 million asking price on the Brazilian midfielder, who has scored 62 goals in 77 appearances for the club since joining on a five-year deal from Brazil’s Atletico Goianiense in 2014.
However, it remains to be seen where Lima can go, as transfer windows in markets that could afford such a sum are all now closed.
He could go to another UAE club because the transfer window here isn’t shut until October 2, but most foreign slots at local clubs are filled, meaning any late purchase would require major upheaval for the buyer.
The price tag is also grossly prohibitive. The record sale by a UAE club was just over Dh80 million when Al Ain sold Asamoah Gyan to China’s Shanghai in 2015, and while Lima is a hot prospect he isn’t the three-time UAE league highest scorer that Gyan was.
“The club hasn’t told me anything about an official offer and we are thinking about the Emirates game with Fabio with us,” said Argentine former Boca Juniors boss Arruabarrena.
“As a coach I am outside of this situation and cannot comment. The situation is between the club and Fabio,” he added.
“If they get an offer they decide is best for the club then that’s up to them. But if you ask me about the mood of Fabio? It’s good, he’s training happily and he scored in the last match.
“The only thing I take care of as a coach is training the team, seeing the possibilities of what I have available to me and putting the best team out on the field.
“I never like to lose players but as a former player myself I know there are times when you look for other things, an increase in salary, or looking for other objectives, it’s normal,” said the former Boca and Villarreal defender.
“If he leaves it is the part of the coach to grow and look to solutions for the problems he has.”
In their first term under Arruabarrena, Al Wasl finished second in the UAE league last season, their highest finish in a decade. Lima was the league’s second highest scorer behind Al Jazira’s Ali Mabkhout (33 goals) with 25 in 26 appearances, and if he goes it would be a major blow to their newfound progress.
On top of that Al Wasl would also find it hard to rope in a replacement in time for October 2’s transfer deadline.
Of the Emirates game, Arruabarrena said: “To make last week’s away draw mean something, we have to follow it up with a win at home. Emirates have proved a hard team for us to beat at home if you look at recent history. We have to be focused or we’ll have problems. They have started well in the cup and league [beating Sharjah 2-0 away and drawing 3-3 at home to Al Dhafra respectively] so we have to stay focused and make a great match to take three points.”
Arabian Gulf League fixtures
Al Dhafra - Sharjah, 5.35pm
Al Wasl - Emirates, 8.30pm
Dibba - Al Jazira, 5.25pm
Al Nasr - Al Wahda, 8.30pm
Hatta - Al Ain, 5.25pm
Ajman - Shabab Ahli Dubai, 8.30pm
Arabian Gulf League standings
P W D L F A Df Pts
1 Al Wahda 1 1 0 0 5 0 5 3
2 Shabab Ahli Dubai 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 3
3 Al Jazira 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
4 Al Dhafra 1 0 1 0 3 3 0 1
5 Emirates 1 0 1 0 3 3 0 1
6 Al Ain 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 1
7 Al Wasl 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 1
8 Al Nasr 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
9 Sharjah 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
10 Ajman 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
11 Hatta 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0
12 Dibba 1 0 0 1 0 5 -5 0