(Rahnuma): Al-Nassr are still hopeful of signing Brazilian hotshot Jonas Goncalves Oliveira from Benfica although the Riyadh club are starting to lose patience and are demanding an answer, one way or the other, as soon as possible.
Landing one of the most prolific strikers in European football would more than make up for losing out to neighbors and rivals Al-Hilal for the signature of United Arab Emirates star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman last week.
Al-Nassr, who finished third last season, 12 points behind champions Al-Hilal, are confident that Jonas wants to move to the Middle East with a two-year $15 million deal on the table. “We have made our final offer,” an Al-Nassr official told Arab News.
“We have also made it clear that we expect an answer by the start of next week at the latest. If it is not going to happen then we still want a little time to look at other targets before the transfer window closes.”
Jonas, twice the Primera Liga Player of the Year, scored 34 goals in 30 league games in Portugal last season and has averaged almost a goal a game since joining from Valencia in 2014. No wonder then that he is seen by Al-Nassr coach Jose Daniel Carreno as the final piece in the jigsaw as the team aim to take the title for the first time since 2015.
The striker was also on the shopping list of Al-Hilal with new coach Jorge Jesus keen to reunite with the striker having signing him when Benfica coach, but it is Al-Nassr leading the chase. “The offer we have made is a good one,” the official added.
“It is now down to the player. We don’t know what is going to happen and it is probably 50-50. What we didn’t count on was that his wife is pregnant and it seems that she prefers to stay in Portugal to have the baby but we will see what happens.
“We are sure he would score goals for us but we are still happy with our activity and are looking forward to the new season.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to ensuring the Brazilian makes the move to Riyadh are Benfica. The former European champions are fighting to keep the star who has one year left on his contract and are ready to offer an extension of two years at an increased salary, even if they cannot match Al-Nassr’s eye-watering offer. The 36-time Portuguese champions are also hoping for a quick answer one way or the other.
“He is one of the best players we have had in the past 20 or 30 years and we don’t want to lose him and the fans agree with us,” Benfica boss Luis Felipe Vieira said last Tuesday.
Al-Nassr have been busy ahead of the new season that kicks off on Aug 30. On Friday, hundreds of fans packed Riyadh’s airport to welcome new signing Ahmed Musa who signed from Leicester City earlier this month for a fee, while undisclosed, reported to be around $20 million.
The Nigerian international, who scored twice at this summer’s World Cup, was visibly surprised and delighted.
“What an amazing reception here in Saudi Arabia,” Musa said.
“I want to thank each and every person who came out and welcomed me at the airport. I am really humbled. I can feel the excitement and energy already, I am looking forward to this historic opportunity.”
As well as Musa, Al-Nassr have recruited former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones, Moroccan international winger Nordin Amrabat, who like Musa impressed in Russia, and Peru center-back Christian Ramos.
Al-Nassr, won the last of their eight league titles in 2015 , and kick off their new campaign at Ohod on Aug 31.