Berg com­pletes move to the Gar­den City

Swe­den striker signs on for two years with Al Ain

The National - News - Sport - - FOOTBALL - John McAu­ley jm­cauley@then­

Al Ain have fi­nally com­pleted the ac­qui­si­tion of Swe­den in­ter­na­tional Mar­cus Berg from Panathi­naikos. The Gar­den City club had hoped to an­nounce the sign­ing last week, but a dis­agree­ment with the Greek side re­gard­ing the trans­fer fee de­layed the deal.

How­ever, Al Ain con­firmed the move was fi­nalised on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tions with Panathi­naikos, with the fig­ure be­lieved to be around €3 mil­lion (Dh12.3m). Berg, 30, has agreed to a two-year con­tract, although there ex­ists an op­tion to re­new. He re­places in the squad Saudi Ara­bia striker Nasser Al Sham­rani.

Ghanim Al Ha­jeri, chair­man of Al Ain foot­ball club, said the ru­mours cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia and in the me­dia re­gard­ing the fi­nan­cial terms of the deal were in­cor­rect, although he did com­mend Berg for help­ing push through the switch.

“Mar­cus Berg dis­played great de­sire to join Al Ain, which con­trib­uted greatly to the com­ple­tion of his trans­fer to Al Ain,” Al Ha­jeri said. “Es­pe­cially be­cause the ne­go­ti­a­tions had taken a dif­fer­ent course at a cru­cial mo­ment. How­ever, Mar­cus showed a keen will­ing­ness to sign for Al Ain.”

What­ever the fee, it is thought Panathi­naikos re­ceived sig­nif­i­cantly less than the €5m re­lease clause in Berg’s con­tract, which still had an­other two years to run. The Greek club were un­der­stand­ably dis­ap­pointed to lose a striker who had scored 73 goals in 116 league matches since join­ing from Ger­many’s Ham­burg in 2013. Berg had top-scored in the 2016/17 Greek Su­per League’s reg­u­lar sea­son, find­ing the net 22 times in 28 games.

A state­ment from Panathi­naikos read: “Un­for­tu­nately, Mar­cus Berg chose to leave Panathi­naikos be­cause he felt that at that time, close to the end of his ca­reer, he wanted to get a big fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit. “There were some mis­un­der­stand­ings dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions. We for­get them, as Mar­cus has of­fered a lot to Panathi­naikos. We wish him good luck in the step he chose and wait for him if he wishes to close his ca­reer in our club.”

Berg’s sign­ing leaves Al Ain still in the mar­ket for one fi­nal for­eign player. The club, through the Asian Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nals later this sum­mer, have re­tained Brazil­ian winger Caio and ear­lier this month added to the squad Ja­panese mid­fielder Tsukasa Shiotani.

Al Ha­jeri con­firmed Al Ain have of­fers from the Gulf and Europe for Colom­bian winger Danilo Asprilla, while the club have been linked heav­ily with Bruno Uvini, the Brazil­ian de­fender at Saudi Ara­bia’s Al Nassr. Zo­ran Mamic, the Al Ain man­ager, knows the player well from his time in charge of the Saudi side last year.

“The [end-of-sea­son] re­port by Zo­ran was clear; it in­cluded all the needs of his team to achieve the de­sired goals for next sea­son,” Al Ha­jeri said. “The truth is that ev­ery­one is seek­ing, through dou­ble ef­forts and a great de­sire, to com­plete the for­eign file in a timely man­ner. We will an­nounce all the de­tails re­lated to each deal af­ter the trans­fer is com­plete.”

Berg’s com­pet­i­tive de­but for Al Ain will most likely be the first leg of their Cham­pi­ons League clash with Al Hi­lal on Au­gust 21. A reg­u­lar with the Swe­den na­tional team, he has 12 goals in 47 ap­pear­ances for his coun­try.

Cour­tesy Al Ain FC

Al Ain have fi­nally com­pleted the ac­qui­si­tion of Swe­den in­ter­na­tional Mar­cus Berg from Panathi­naikos.

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