Vancouver Whitecaps pick up Aly Ghazal as free agent

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

As the transfer window draws to a close, the highly-active Vancouver Whitecaps have made a splash with the acquisition of Egyptian international Aly Ghazal on a one-year deal.

Per the team’s official release, the deal – inked with the team’s Transfer Allocation Money this summer – will extend through the 2018 season, with a club option for the 2019 campaign as well. All that remains is the completion of his physical and International Transfer Certificate, at which point the 25-year-old will occupy Vancouver’s 10th international spot for the coming year. The team acquired their final international spot from New York City FC in exchange for $75,000 of General Allocation money.

“Aly is a top midfield player who is comfortable on the ball and strong defensively,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “He fits into the way we want to play, has a lot of experience at a great age, and brings leadership qualities. We are looking forward to welcoming Aly to our club and city.”

Ghazal will join the Whitecaps after spending the first four years of his professional career with Portugese club Nacional. He started in 112 of his 117 appearances for the side during his tenure there, becoming the first Egyptian captain of a top-flight European football team.

He was sold to Chinese club Guizhou Zicheng for €2.6 million earlier this year, but a decrease in the Chinese league’s number of allowed foreign player spots resulted in his contract’s termination with the Asian club.

“When I left China, I had different options to consider but the decision was made easier after speaking with manager Robinson,” added Ghazal. “I felt his big trust in my game as well as how it would suit Vancouver’s style of play and this was a very important factor. I also did my own research and what attracted me even more to Vancouver was the great atmosphere around the club and the supporters. I am very much looking forward to this exciting opportunity to play in Major League Soccer for a quality club.”

Now, he’ll head to North America instead, debuting for the MLS as just the second Egyptian international to hit the league after Amro Tarek spent a game on loan with the Columbus Crew back in 2016.

Known predominantly as a defensive midfielder, Ghazal is also capable of playing centre back and could appear in either spot for the Whitecaps this coming year.

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