Al Ahli striker Ahmed Khalil set for big-money move to rival Al Jazira

UAE striker Ahmed Khalil looks set to join Al Jazira this summer on a free transfer, ending his long affiliation with Al Ahli, although as of Wednesday night there had been no official confirmation from either club.

The forward, whose contract with the UAE champions has entered its final few months and thus makes him a free agent, has reportedly accepted a four-year deal with the Abu Dhabi club, worth an estimated $5 million per year. It would make him one of the highest-paid footballers in the UAE.

Khalil had been discussing renewing his contract with Ahli, his boyhood club whom he has served since making his debut in 2006, but the package offered by Jazira is considerably more attractive.

Cosmin Olaroiu, the Ahli manager, initially denied the news following his side’s 2-0 victory at Al Dhafra on Wednesday’s, which Khalil missed through injury, but the Romanian did suggest his striker had received a better proposal elsewhere.

“I refuse even believe that Ahmed Khalil is leaving to Al Jazira,” Olaroiu said. “When I first came to the club Ahmed wasn’t even starting. But we worked together and he became the best player in Asia. Personally, if I performed well and I wasn’t appreciated I would prefer to go.”

In 163 league appearances for Ahli in the professional era, Ahmed Khalil has scored 56 goals. During that time, he has three UAE top-flight titles, one President’s Cup and the Arabian Gulf Cup twice, while in 2015 he played an integral role in Ahli’s run to the AFC Champions League final.

The 25-year-old footballer is also a leading player for the national team, while he was voted Asian Player of the Year in 2015, becoming the first Emirati to win the continent’s premier individual award.