Omar Abdulrahman? Heard of him? No? Fair enough but there are plenty of European scouts who have certainly done more than just hear about the talented midfielder.
If the papers are to be believed then the playmaker is wanted by Barcelona, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, Hamburg and Malaga. The player himself has rejected the opportunity to sign for Portuguese giants Benfica and last summer he saw a deal to sign on with Manchester City fall through due to his national teams rankings in regards to a work permit application.
The Al Ain forward has been called the ‘Arabian Messi’ in the past but in fairness to the lad he is a different sort of player. In fact the comparison with David Silva or Juan Mata that are currently doing the rounds is a far more on point appraisal.
Just 21-years-old his main problem when it comes to fulfilling a Premier League move has been his work permit issues. Despite being a Yemeni born in Saudi Arabia he was awarded United Arab Emirates citizenship in order to complete a move to Al Ain; something that could not be offered to him by clubs in Saudi Arabia such as Al Hilal.
Therefore he has represented the UAE since 2007 and at senior level since 2010; but given the countries lowly FIFA Ranking of 103 regardless of being a regular in the team he would struggle to meet the UK’s current Work Permit regulations to play for either Manchester City or Arsenal.
That is not to say he could not sign for the teams in question; however he would have to be sent out on loan to a less stringent nation such as Spain to gain first-team football.
Therefore while Manchester City were reportedly impressed with what they saw on a two-week trial in August 2012 signing him is fraught with issues. Arsenal also have the same issue but as they have shown in the past with the likes of Carlos Vela, Joel Campbell and Wellington Paulista they are not afraid to sign players before sending them out on loan deals while they await permission to play legally in the UK.
Both clubs have commercial advantages in their favour over a potential signing. Manchester City are of course owned by the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE so they certainly would enjoy bringing the country’s most iconic footballer to the club.
Meanwhile Arsenal also have UAE connections via their flagship sponsorship with Emirates; one of the biggest companies based in Dubai.
The German interest should also be taken seriously; as the European based academy for his current club Al-Ain is based in Germany and Emirates also have a long-term interest with Hamburg; one team also being mentioned.
For now however the player himself seems more than happy to remain just where he is and help Al Ain to silverware this season.
However for more than just his footballing ability this will be one of the more interesting transfer scrambles of the summer.
Here he is in action…
image: © Matt and Kim Rudge