UAE Pro League: Massive Signings Add Excitement to New Season

๐Ÿ’ซ 22-year-old @OrlandoCitySC winger Facundo Torres didn’t feature for Uruguay in their 0-0 draw against South Korea.

โšฝ๏ธ He outperformed his xG more than almost any other player in the #MLS this season, scoring 4.7 goals over expected (9 in total).

#URU | #FIFAWorldCup

Move over #Thanksgiving, it’s time for #BlackFriday, and the big games just keep on coming:

๐Ÿˆ Tulane @ Cincinnati
โšฝ๏ธ #ThreeLions vs. #USMNT

Our Thanksgiving weekend viewers’ guide has you covered today.

#NCAA | #FIFAWorldCup
https://thegeniusplaybook.com/a-rare-sporting-equinox-our-ultimate-thanksgiving-viewer-guide/

๐Ÿˆ #NFLThanksgiving gave us three close and competitive games yesterday, with wins for the #Bills, #Cowboys and #Vikings.

These were the top performers from the Thanksgiving slate, per @NextGenStats. โœจ

๐™Ž๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™๐™š๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ: @USMNT x @MLS

Just one player of the starting XI against Wales came from a team in the #MLS. But the bench was stacked with MLS talent that could hurt England tonight.

Here are a few to watch out for. ๐Ÿงต

#ThreeLions | #USMNT

๐Ÿ’ซ Dak’s 88% completion rate in Week 11 was the highest recorded in a single game (min 15 attempts) in the whole of 2022 so far.

โญ๏ธ The #Cowboys are getting hot at the right time, but Coach of the Year contender Brian Daboll has the #Giants playing elite football.

#NYGvsDAL

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This summer has seen one of the most incredible transfer window’s in UAE Pro League history. A huge number of talented players from across Europe and further afield have joined up with new teams as the season gets underway.

Big players making big moves

Al Ain initiated the summer transfer madness with the signing of Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko, signed on a permanent deal from West Ham United. He was swiftly followed by Sharjah, who secured names like ex-Barcelona players Paco Alcacer and Miralem Pjanic, which added to the anticipation and the excitement of the league.

Sharjah also set new standards by reeling in the Greek centre-back, Kostas Manolas. His nickname of โ€œRemotandaโ€ – following his late Champions League equaliser for Roma in 2017 – put him on the map as one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe.

Possibly the biggest deal of the window was made by Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club, with ex-Lyon centre-back Jason Denayer, who holds genuine ambitions of making the Belgium World Cup team in 2022.

Al-Jazira reacted to an injury to Serbian central defender Milos Kosanovic’s, who underwent fibula surgery, to sign Czech defender Filip Novak from Fenerbahรงe.

A history of incoming talent

For a few years, the UAE’s top-flight was devoid of names like these. During the midpoint of the previous decade, the arrival of Ghana superstar Asamoah Gyan, Brazilian striker Grafite, and Montenegro’s Mirko Vucinic all confirmed a gilded age in the Pro League.

Ghana legend Asamoah Gyan had two separate spells in the Pro League.

This celebrated cohort preceded the World Cup winners Fabio Cannavaro, David Trezeguet and Luca Toni.

But in recent years, some stellar names hadย disembarked to other leagues, like the Saudi League and the Qatar Stars League. More and more Emirati teams were struggling to compete in the AFC Champions League. The 2015 and 2016 championship matches saw defeats for Al-Ahli and Al-Ain. Additionally, none of their contingent made the final eight from 2018 until Wahda in 2021.

But the tide is turning, and the influx of new signings means that the UAE Pro League is back on the map as one of the most exciting leagues in the region.

The impact on the title race

The arrival of new players means that a hotly-contested title race is almost guaranteed to unfold as the season develops.

With seven points after four games, holders Al-Ain have showed early on why they’re champions. Having Matias Palacios, a 2022 Golden Boy candidate, Serhiy Rebrov, the head coach, and Yarmolenko’s signature have all helped to keep the standards high.

The addition of Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki and attacker Florin Tanase from Romania gives the 2020โ€“21 champions Alโ€“Jazira new life. In 305 minutes, Ali Mabkhout, a legend for club and nation, has recorded seven goals.

Manolas, Pjanic, and Alcacer together could hardly make Sharjah’s backbone any stronger. The fact that they have Cosmin Olaroiu, who is perhaps the best strategist on the continent, as well as a wealth of UAE talent, enhances the runners-up from the previous season even more.

At Wahda – who also signed former Napoli and Everton midfielder Allan – Carlos Carvalhal is expected to succeed. At Shabab Al-Ahli, the rรฉsumรฉ of Leonardo Jardim, Denayer, and 2017 AFC Player of the Year Omar Khrbin speaks for itself.

Ex-Napoli and Everton midfielder Allan has also recently joined the Pro League.

Beyond the huge impact on the league itself, the defining qualities of these signings’ long-lasting legacy cannot be limited to only social media interactions, ticket revenue, or entertainment value on the field.

This investment will be worthwhile if lessons can be learned from these seasoned pros, turning the possibility of sending a team from the region to the World Cup in 2026.

We’ll be watching closely, covering all the action from the UAE Pro League each week here, on The Playbook.

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๐Ÿ’ซ 22-year-old @OrlandoCitySC winger Facundo Torres didn’t feature for Uruguay in their 0-0 draw against South Korea.

โšฝ๏ธ He outperformed his xG more than almost any other player in the #MLS this season, scoring 4.7 goals over expected (9 in total).

#URU | #FIFAWorldCup

Move over #Thanksgiving, it’s time for #BlackFriday, and the big games just keep on coming:

๐Ÿˆ Tulane @ Cincinnati
โšฝ๏ธ #ThreeLions vs. #USMNT

Our Thanksgiving weekend viewers’ guide has you covered today.

#NCAA | #FIFAWorldCup
https://thegeniusplaybook.com/a-rare-sporting-equinox-our-ultimate-thanksgiving-viewer-guide/

๐Ÿˆ #NFLThanksgiving gave us three close and competitive games yesterday, with wins for the #Bills, #Cowboys and #Vikings.

These were the top performers from the Thanksgiving slate, per @NextGenStats. โœจ

๐™Ž๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™๐™š๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ: @USMNT x @MLS

Just one player of the starting XI against Wales came from a team in the #MLS. But the bench was stacked with MLS talent that could hurt England tonight.

Here are a few to watch out for. ๐Ÿงต

#ThreeLions | #USMNT

๐Ÿ’ซ Dak’s 88% completion rate in Week 11 was the highest recorded in a single game (min 15 attempts) in the whole of 2022 so far.

โญ๏ธ The #Cowboys are getting hot at the right time, but Coach of the Year contender Brian Daboll has the #Giants playing elite football.

#NYGvsDAL

Load More