New samba stopper: Digao joins Sharjah

Matt Monaghan 00:21 01/08/2016
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You shall not pass: Digao’s fearsome defending ability on show for Al Hilal

Dominant Al Hilal centre-back Digao is set for a reunion with coach Giorgos Donis after he flew in yesterday morning to become the latest impressive addition by ambitious Sharjah.

Digao, 28, travelled to undergo a medical and seal a three-year contract ahead of joining up with his new team-mates at their Austrian training camp.

His procurement continues a sensational summer of business which began with the buy of feared Al Ittihad marksman Gelmin Rivas, as the King bid to avoid a third-successive brush with Arabian Gulf League relegation.

The Brazilian defender has been a leading figure at the Saudi Professional League giants since his December 2013 purchase from Fluminense for $6.5 million. This form saw him specifically requested by Donis upon arrival last week, with the pair previously working together at the Crescent from February 2015-May 2016.

“Sharjah reached an agreement with Al Hilal for the transfer of Brazilian Digao,” they tweeted. “He will sign after medical examinations.”

An alternative deal had been set-up for Venezuela international Wilker Angel. But Donis abandoned the pursuit of the 23-year-old Deportivo Tachira defender in favour of his former charge.

Digao leaves Riyadh after gaining the King’s Cup and Saudi Super Cup last year, as well as the 2015/16 Crown Prince Cup. He also was a fundamental part of the side which was shocked by Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2015 AFC Champions League final.

In total, he scored four times during 88 appearances in all competitions. Despite never lifting the SPL crown, he gained an incredible 24 clean sheets in 45 league outings. Such figures will be a boon for Sharjah, who conceded 40 goals in 26 AGL games last season.

Digao is set to become the second piece of eye-catching business carried out by the five-time top-flight champions. A fortnight ago they impressively brought in 27-year-old Rivas, who was second top scorer with 19 SPL goals last term.

A further two spots remain open in their four-player foreign quota. Kuwait midfielder Aziz Mashaan, 27, has been linked with taking up the Asian spot, while Donis could be set to raid Hilal again for 31-year-old Brazilian forward Ailton.

Sweeping change has occurred at Sharjah Stadium. Rookie boss Abdulaziz Al Anbari exited following an 11th-placed finish in 2015/16. Prolific striker Wanderley left earlier this month to join 2016 AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Al Nasr, ending an exceptional two-year spell which included 32 goals in 51 top-flight displays.

They decided not to continue with Brazilian defender Mauricio Ramos, or turn loan moves for attacking midfielders Maicosuel or Ricardinho permanent.

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