Zamalek are close to signing Ismaily midfielder Hosni Abd-Rabou on a free transfer, the club’s board member Tarek Ghoneim said on Wednesday.
The success-starved Cairo side are looking to rebuild their squad after finishing a third successive season empty-handed as arch-rivals Ahly maintained their domestic supremacy with a seventh consecutive Egyptian Premier League triumph.
Zamalek’s new coach Hassan Shehata, who replaced Hossam Hassan earlier this month, identified Abd-Rabou, who was voted as the best player in Egypt’s triumphant 2008 African Nations Cup campaign, as one of his main transfer targets in the close season.
“We are in advanced negotiations with Abd-Rabou over a possible move,” said Ghoneim, who is a member of Zamalek’s interim board of directors.
“We agreed that he would pen a one-year deal but we still need to sort out the financial details.”
Ismaily, who like Zamalek are suffering from persistent financial problems, are stepping up their efforts to convince Abd-Rabou to sign a new contract after his previous deal expired following the end of last season.
League winners Ahly are also reportedly interested in acquiring the services of the 26-year-old, a talented holding midfielder who is renowned for his dead-ball prowess and ability to pull the strings from the middle.
However, reports suggest that Abd-Rabou could be tempted by Shehata’s appointment as Zamalek’s new boss.
Shehata was the architect of Abd-Rabou’s rise to prominence, as he included him in Egypt’s youth team squad for the 2003 U-20 World Cup before promoting him to the senior team during a glorious reign for the Pharaohs.
Zamalek are targeting other high-profile players, including fellow midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who is also a free agent, and ENPPI’s Egyptian international playmaker Walid Soliman.
The White Knights have not won the league since 2004.