Ahly said on Wednesday that on-loan star Ramadan Sobhi had turned down an offer to join them permanently, informing them that he would move to fellow Egyptian side Pyramids FC instead in a surprising announcement.
"Ramadan Sobhi is out of our plans," Ahly's recruitment director Amir Tawfik said in a club statement.
"The player informed the club that he will join Pyramids FC".
Ahly said they had been in intensive talks with Huddersfield to make Sobhi's loan deal permanent, adding that they agreed to meet the English club's asking price of 3.25 million British pounds (EGP 67.7 million).
However, the 23-year-old was tempted by a lucrative contract offer from Pyramids, estimated at EGP 80 million ($5 million) over three years, according to local reports.
For Ahly, losing a prized asset would come as a blow as they yearn for a record-extending ninth African Champions League title.
The Red Devils are firm favourites to win the domestic league but it is the Champions League that matters most to their fans, given that it has been elusive since they won their last crown in 2013. They meet Morocco's Wydad Casablanca in the semi-final next month.
Sobhi joined Ahly from then Premier League side Huddersfield last summer on a season-long loan deal, which ended on 30 June. He also spent the second half of last season on loan at the Cairo giants, with his arrival playing a key role in helping the club bridge a gap with perennial rivals Zamalek to win the domestic league for a fourth straight time.
He has also produced some inspiring displays in the early stages of this season, only to suffer a thigh injury that kept him on the sidelines for three months. When he recovered in March, football in Egypt was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sobhi, a product of Ahly's youth academy, had his first foray into European football in the summer of 2016 when he joined then Premier League side Stoke City, before moving to Huddersfield one season later after Stoke were relegated.
After failing to establish himself with his new side, he returned to Ahly in January 2019 on a six-month loan deal.
Pyramids have spent big over the past few seasons to build a team capable of challenging for honours and dethroning Ahly. They finished third in the league last season and reached the CAF Confederation Cup semis this term, where they will face Guinean side Horoya AC.
The Emirati-owned club have also signed Ahly's veteran right-back Ahmed Fathi this summer after he opted not to renew his deal. Their stand-out performer this season, experienced playmaker Abdallah El-Said, also arrived from Ahly in January 2019.
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