Al Ain bolster frontline by signing Swedish international Berg

Al Ain bolster frontline by signing Swedish international Berg
Swedish international Marcus Berg being presented the No. 9 jersey by Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Ain Football Club, in Al Ain on Wednesday.

Dubai - The Boss prised their man from Greek club Panathinaikos on a two-year-deal

By James Jose

Published: Wed 28 Jun 2017, 8:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 28 Jun 2017, 11:33 PM

Al Ain have made a statement of intent ahead of the new season by signing Swedish international Marcus Berg.

After a little bit of a hiccup during negotiations, The Boss managed to prise their man from Greek club Panathinaikos on a two-year deal reported to be worth 3 million Euros, with the option to renew.

"Al Ain officially signs striker Markus Berg, the Greek league's top scorer, for two renewable seasons," the club announced the capture on their official twitter handle on Wednesday.

Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Ain Football Club, signed the deal with Berg. Berg's capture is a significant one after Asamoah Gyan' successful four-year spell with Al Ain and the Swede will have some big shoes to fill.

"I'm so happy to announce that from now on I'm an Al Ain player. I'm looking forward to my new challenge and I will do my very best to reach mine and the clubs goals," Berg wrote on his official Instagram account on Wednesday.

"I want to take the oppurtunity to say a big thank you to all of you fans of Panathinaikos who have been supporting me from the first until the last days in this fantastic club. I'm so proud and happy to have been a part of Panathinaikos for four years, It's been a lot of ups and downs but I will always look back with pride and joy and remember all the hard work and effort I put in every day to improve myself and the team. It's been a lot of tears the last days, tears of happiness from the love, kindness, respect me and my family got from all of you fantastic people in Panathinaikos. Today, a new and exciting chapter starts for me and my family," added Berg, who will don the No.9 jersey.

Berg's acquisition bolsters the Garden City club's frontline as they plot silverware on two fronts­ - domestically as well as continentally. Al Ain ended without a trophy for the first time in many years when they finished fourth in the Arabian Gulf League last season. They were also out of the reckoning in the Arabian Gulf Cup and the President's Cup.

The fourth place finish means Al Ain will miss out on AFC Champions League action next season. The Boss, who were the inaugural champions in 2003 apart from finishing runners-up in 2005 and 2016, have featured in almost every season except for 2008, 2009 and 2012.

But Al Ain are currently in the AFC Champions League quarterfinals and take on Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal over two legs in August and September. If they do manage to go all the way, a spot in the prestigious Club World Cup to be held in the UAE in December, beckons for The Boss.

Berg's arrival will add teeth to Al Ain, who also have Caio and the young upstart Yousef Ahmed, apart from midfield linchpin Omar Abdulrahman. Berg replaces Saudi Arabia's Nasser Al Shamrani, who has returned to Al Hilal after his loan spell. The 30-year-old Berg becomes the second arrival at Al Ain this summer after Japanese centre back Tsukasa Shiotani joined from J1 League side Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Berg had two years still left on his contract and after lengthy negotiations between Al Ain and Panathinaikos' board representative and his agent in Al Ain on Tuesday regarding his 5 million Euros release clause, the Greek club finally gave the green signal.

Berg was already keen on the move and his family's decision to settle in the UAE, tilted it in Al Ain's favour. Berg, who is married to Josefine Ringblom, has a daughter Jolie and son Leonel.

Berg, capped 47 times by Sweden since his international debut in 2008, has scored 12 goals. Berg made 151 appearances for Panathinaikos, since joining them in 2013 and scored 95 goals and had 28 assists. Berg was the Greek Super League's top scorer this season with 22 goals.

He also played in the Bundesliga with Hamburg and also had a loan spell with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.

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