Omar Khribin’s shock move from Al-Hilal to Egypt’s Pyramids FC could be a good deal for all parties, according to officials at the Riyadh giants.
On Sunday it was announced that the 2017 Asian Player of the Year will head to Egypt on a six-month loan in January with the newly formed club having the option to make the deal permanent next summer.
In three games so far under new coach Jorge Jesus, two in the league and the Saudi Super Cup against Al-Ittihad in London, the 24-year-old has started just once. The Syrian striker played 60 minutes of Al-Hilal’s 3-1 win at Al-Raed on Saturday, his first start of the season.
Fans have taken to social media to express their frustration at losing one of the top strikers in Asian football, who joined the Saudi Pro League champions in January last year. But the club is hopeful that the move will be the right one for all parties.
“It is obviously sad for fans and the team to lose such a talented player but the move should be good for him in the end,” an Al-Hilal official told Arab News.
“We have a number of high-level strikers in the team and it is likely he will be rotated in and out of the starting line-up. But in Egypt he should get more minutes on the pitch.”
The Riyadh club may well be in the market to reinforce their attack when the winter transfer window opens.
“There is a possibility in January of more high-profile foreign strikers joining the club ahead of the AFC Champions League and the departure of Khribin frees up a spot.”
Champions League rules allow participants to field just four foreign players, one of which must be from an AFC member nation. “With Omar Abdulrahman already in the team, there was not going to be room for another Asian player,” added the official, who also denied media rumors that attacking midfielder Carlos Eduardo could also be loaned out of the club.
French striker Bafetimbi Gomis was signed in August at a reported cost of around $14 million. The former Lyon and Swansea City star opened his Al-Hilal account on Saturday and is already proving a popular figure with the fans. Jesus also has Venezuelan striker Gelmin Rivas to call upon upfront.
Khribin, who almost led his country to the this summer’s World Cup, only to lose a two-legged continental playoff to Australia, said that he was looking forward to joining Pyramids FC.
“It will be an exciting challenge for me to play in Egypt but I am focusing on Al-Hilal until then,” the striker said.
Pyramids FC is a new club which have Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, as their president. After six games of the new Egyptian Premier League season, the ambitious Cairo club are unbeaten and sit in third place.
Khribin could be a ready-made replacement for Rubimar. The Brazilian striker recently left Pyramids to travel in the opposite direction to join Saudi Arabian club Ohod. So upset was head coach Alberto Valentim at the deal that the Brazilian coach left the club to be replaced by Argentine boss Ricardo La Volpe.
Although the move is set to go through in January, it is possible that Khribin will be unavailable until February. Syria have qualified for next January’s Asian Cup in the UAE.
Al-Hilal, top of the Saudi Pro League table with two wins from the opening two games, continue their domestic season on Thursday with a home game against Al-Batin. The club has announced that entry for fans will be free of charge.