Brazilian football striker Ricardo Oliveira's hiring by the Al Jazira team, based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, made the headlines in the local press. With a photograph and text that takes up most of the front page of last Sunday's edition (July 19), The National, the leading English language newspaper in the emirate, underscores that the purchase of the player for US$ 20 million is the most expensive transaction of the type in the history of football in the country.
Emphasizing the record-high value of the deal, the newspaper informs that Oliveira will replace another Brazilian, Fernando Baiano, who has just been sold to the rival team Al Wahda, also from Abu Dhabi. According to The National, Baiano refused a proposal of US$ 7 million to remain in the team for another two years, because he wanted a three-year contract totaling US$ 13 million.
Oliveira will leave Spanish team Real Betis to form a striker duo with another Brazilian, Rafael Sobis, who was thus far the most expensive football player in the Emirates. He was hired in the last season for US$ 14 million.
"I thought about my family and I had to make this decision. It is an offer that will benefit both teams, Betis and Zaragoza," said Oliveira, according to the newspaper, referring to the two Spanish teams for which he played. "I made the decision and it was important to me and to Betis," added the player.
And the duo has potential to be strong. Both players have already been in the Brazilian national team, and have stood out in Brazilian and European teams. Oliveira, a 29-year-old native of São Paulo, has played for Portuguesa, Santos, São Paulo, Valencia, Milan, Zaragoza and Betis. Sobis, 24, born in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, came up in Internacional and led the team's victory over São Paulo in the final match of the 2006 Libertadores of America Cup.
It is worth noting that São Paulo is the Brazilian team with the most victories at international tournaments, holding three Libertadores titles and three FIFA Club World Cup titles, besides being the only team to have been five times the Brazilian champion.
Al Jazira's fans, however, will have to wait to see the two Brazilians playing together. Sobis had a knee ligament rupture and should only play again in December. Al Jazira belongs to sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed, who also owns the British Manchester City.