Maradona targets Olivera

Diego Maradona has instructed Al Wasl to make Uruguayan striker Juan Manuel Olivera their second South American signing this summer after the arrival of Chilean international Edson Puch.

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Published: Fri 22 Jul 2011, 12:47 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:15 PM

The Penarol frontman, who turns 30 next month, has been on the Argentine legend’s radar in recent weeks and the Yellow Panthers head coach now wants to bring him to Zabeel Stadium ahead of the forthcoming UAE Pro League season.

Maradona gave the green light for club bosses to approach Penarol and enquire about Olivera’s availability during a phone call from his native homeland, where he is currently casting his eye over other prospective new recruits at the Copa America.

Olivera began his career at Danubio and scored 39 goals in 109 appearances for the Montevideo-based club in three years before being loaned to San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires.

There, Olivera netted five strikes in 13 outings prior to being sold to Mexico’s Cruz Azul in 2005, which turned out to be a short-lived stint as – after registering twice in as many matches – he was farmed out to Club Universidad de Chile on a temporary basis.

His goals-to-games ratio was impressive once more as he hit the target nine times in 21 showings, forming a promising partnership with the country’s star hitman Marcelo Salas in the process.

However, a permanent switch didn’t materialise and Cruz Azul eventually offloaded him back to where it all began, Danubio. The striker failed to recapture his form though and the much-travelled journeyman was soon on the move again to South Korea in 2006 and China a year later.

Spells at Suwon Bluewings and Shaanxi Baorong respectively over that two-year period saw Olivera get his first taste of Asian football, although it wasn’t long before he was back in South America and turning out for Paraguay’s Libertad.

He notched on five occasions from 23 run-outs, but 2009 saw the 6ft 3in targetman hit the heights back at Club Universidad de Chile.

In July of that year, Olivera struck the winner as Universidad de Chile won the Apertura title for the first time in five years with victory over Union Espanola in the last encounter of the play-offs. He ended up as the competition’s leading marksman with 11.

Olivera racked up over 50 efforts in the Chilean domestic league, the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana overall, yet he opted to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab in Riyadh after the semi-finals of the 2010 Copa Libertadores.

He managed to continue his scoring streak there, with four goals in nine games, and maintain it upon his return home to Penarol, with five strikes in 11 matches.

The San Fernando-born player is renowned for his height and strength and, if Penarol confirm his availability within the next 24 hours, Al Wasl will submit a transfer bid for his services.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Francisco Yeste remains an Al Wasl player, despite being deemed surplus to requirements and not part of Maradona’s future plans.

Recent reports had linked the Basque attacking midfielder with a move to Greek side Olympiakos, but no official contact has been made between the two clubs so far.

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