Lucas Neill has been warned not to let his pay expectations prevent him landing a new club as United Arab Emirates outfit Al Wasl emerges as the latest side to be linked with the Australia captain.
A leading agent in the Perisan Gulf claims Neill, released by Pro-League Al Jazira in June, is chasing a $1.5 million one-year deal to return to the region.
It’s a figure that proved too rich for Saudi Arabia champion Al Shabab and Qatari Stars League newcomer Al Sailiya – both of whom were keen to snare Neill.
But both baulked, leaving Al Wasl, which parted company with Diego Maradona in May after a turbulent 14-month reign, as another option for the 34-year-old Aussie.
Al Wasl's new coach, Frenchman Bruno Metsu, has made no secret of his desire to sign an experienced defender in time for a training camp in Germany this month ahead of the new Pro-League season, which kicks off against Al Wahda early next month.
And Neill, who won a 50th cap as captain for his country in the 3-1 midweek loss to Scotland, would welcome a return to Dubai, his previous home with Al Jazira before the club declined to renew his contract after just one season.
“It is 80 per cent certain that he will sign for Al Wasl. But it may be a case of the player not commanding the same wage that he earned the previous season at Al Jazira, whether he signs for Al Wasl or not," a Dubai-based agent close to the contract negotiations to bring Neill back to the Pro-League said.
“Players need to be realistic about the money on offer at this time, especially when they are in their 30s.”
It’s believed Neill commanded a $1.5 million tax-free salary during his spell with Al Jazira and that Al Wasl, which finished a dissapointing eight last season, is only prepared to offer around $1 million.
Metsu knows all about Neill, having coached against him for Qatar in a 2008 World Cup qualifier in Brisbane which ended in a 4-0 win for Australia.
Al Wasl has seven Pro-League titles, the last of which was back in 2007 and is desperate to return to the summit.
Its highest profile player is Argentine-born playmaker Mariano Donda, who spent four years with Bari, before joining last season.
Metsu has already signed Egyptian midfileder Mahmoud Abdel Razek Shikabala on loan from Zamalek, and Faisal Khalil, the former UAE national team striker, also on loan, from Al Ahli.
“Our defence is not strong enough and we need to add more quality there," he said last week.
“But that is normal: last season Al Wasl conceded 40 league goals. However, it is not just a problem with the defence, it is the whole team.
“I hope to have all the team at the camp in Germany, including the two new players, if it is possible to find them.”
Metsu found fame after guiding Senegal to the World Cup finals in 2002, defeating world champion France in the opening game before finally losing to a golden goal against Turkey in the quarter finals.
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