Dubai: Former Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo will make his Al Nasr debut at home to Al Ain on Friday, but he shouldn’t be expected to have an immediate impact, according to Blue Wave boss Ivan Jovanovic.
The 33-year-old Spaniard joined midweek for €1 million (Dh4.3 million) on a two-year deal from Turkey’s Besiktas, earning the player Dh15 million a season.
It comes at a time when Al Nasr are desperate for a win having opened their Arabian Gulf League campaign with two defeats at home to Ajman 1-0 and away to Sharjah 6-3.
“He’s one player with great experience, having played at a high level, but, of course, this guy will need a little more time to adapt, to find out about the team and how they play, and even the weather conditions,” said Jovanovic.
“It’s not easy for him. We need to give him time. I believe that he will help us in the future, but now with the situation we are in today, he has to play.”
Negredo replaces Brazilian striker Iury de Castilho, who himself had only just joined from Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk over the summer.
“We had been thinking about Negredo all summer but it was too difficult to sign him because Besiktas were playing European qualifiers, now they are over it was easier to sign him.
“He will replace Iury, who is a young player on a long-term contract with the team, so he will remain (on the books).”
Of the Al Ain match, the Serbian said: “Al Ain are the defending champions and a very good team, we come into this after two bad results and have the chance to change the impression of our team.”
With Negredo now joining French former Newcastle United and Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye at the club along with Brazilians Samuel Rosa and Marquinhos Gabriel, from Hatta and Corinthians, the side should be strong this season, but Jovanovic stressed the need for patience.
“We’ve changed all the foreigners and that makes it hard to find balance in the team. Sometimes you need time to work, but we haven’t had the chance yet. I believe we have a good team, and in the future they can represent Al Nasr in a good way.”
Elsewhere this weekend, league-leaders Sharjah are away to Shabab Ahli on Thursday, and fellow table-toppers Al Wahda host Al Wasl on Friday. Meanwhile, Al Jazira, who round off a list of four clubs all on six points, which includes Al Ain, are at home to Bani Yas on Thursday.
Arabian Gulf League fixtures
Emirates v Dibba, 5.25pm
Shabab Ahli v Sharjah, 5.30pm
Al Jazira v Bani Yas, 8.15pm
Al Nasr v Al Ain, 5.30pm
Al Dhafra v Kalba, 5.40pm
Fujairah v Ajman, 8.15pm
Al Wahda v Al Wasl, 8.15pm