Former Zamalek winger Mahmoud Abdel-Razek, known affectionately as Shikabala (Photo: Reuters)
Zamalek called on their passionate fans to provide financial backing as the club seek to re-sign Shikabala, who is deemed surplus to requirements at Portugal's Sporting Lisbon after going AWOL.
A Twitter hashtag created by Zamalek's supporters urged the club to make a move for fan favourite Shikabala, a dazzling winger who has often failed to live up to his potential due to numerous off-field problems.
But the White Knights' chairman Mortada Mansour, who spent big last summer to bolster an underachieving squad, said the club had exerted a lot of effort to lower Sporting's demands but that the asking price remains an obstacle.
"Sporting initially demanded 1.2 million euros to sell Shikabala, but after some negotiations they agreed to release him for 750,000," Mansour, an outspoken lawyer, said in a television interview.
"But we can't still meet this price tag, that's why I call on the Zamalek fans who are desperately calling for Shikabala's return to make donations and help us get him back."
Sporting warned Zamalek earlier this month against approaching the 29-year-old, who joined the Lisbon outfit in January 2004 on the transfer deadline day but struggled to force his way into the starting line-up, making a solitary appearance with the senior team.
He hasn't shown up at Sporting since September last year, spending most of his time in Aswan, an Upper Egyptian city where he was born.
Zamalek have already re-signed another Portugal-based playmaker in Mohamed Ibrahim, who decided to end a short stint at Maritimo.
The Cairo giants are within touching distance of wrapping up their first Egyptian Premier League title since 2004, having blossomed after signing more than a dozen players last year.
They need seven points from their remaining six games to end the hegemony of arch-rivals Ahly, who would have equaled their own record of winning the title nine straight times had they prevailed this term.
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