Australia captain Lucas Neill is on the brink of leaving his fourth club in as many seasons, with Al Wasl reported to have replaced him with Iraq defender Ahmed Ibrahim.
The World Game broke the news that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Pro League club was looking to offload Neill during the January transfer window, with Al Wasl’s French coach, Guy Lacombe, believed to be keen on freeing up an Asian spot on his roster.
Iraq media is reporting that 20-year-old Ibrahim, who excelled for his country in its impressive Gulf Cup run, is the man Lancombe has brought in to replace Neill.
“We are just waiting for the medical report to come through and then they will sign,” Al Wasl spokesman Tariq Abdulla told Sport 360 in reference to Ibrahim and another player, Jose Ferreira.
“We are expecting to sign (Ibrahim and Ferreira) this afternoon.”
Neill joined Al Wasl on a one-year deal in August, having spent the previous season at fellow UAE club Al Jazira. One-year Stints in Turkey with Galatasaray and England at Everton preceded his move to the Middle East.
Despite being suspended for the Socceroos’ next 2014 World Cup qualifying match against Oman in March, Neill has been included in the 19-player squad to play Romania next Thursday.
Of far more pressing concern now may be the search for a new club, although Neill’s management told TWG there is plenty of interest from clubs in Asia and Europe in the 34-year-old central defender.
“Yes, there has been interest from other clubs, but for the time being Lucas very much remains an Al Wasl player and is committed to the club,” Neill’s UK-based agent Darren Jackson said in mid-January.
Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda was among the suitors willing to invest in Neill and is reported to have offered him a $1 million deal for the 2013 season.
Neill, who turns 35 in March – the month which marks the beginning of the CSL season – is understood to beearning around $800,000 in the Gulf.
New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke admitted his concern over the fitness of star Australia forward Tim Cahill, who is recovering from a hamstring injury.