The Vancouver Whitecaps made some noise before the Summer transfer window ended, as they signed Egyptian central midfielder Aly Ghazal. The 25-year-old has agreed to an MLS contract through 2018, with a club option in 2019.
Aly Ghazal signs with Vancouver Whitecaps
In order to complete the deal, the Whitecaps used Targeted Allocation Money. Ghazal will occupy an International Roster Spot. The Caps acquired the roster spot in a trade with New York City FC early Thursday morning. He will officially join the club's roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and medical examinations.
As a veteran of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Ghazal signed his first professional contract with CD Nacional and eventually became the club captain. From 2012-17, Ghazal appeared 117 times (112 starts) for Nacional. At the beginning of the 2017 year, he transferred to Guizhou Zhicheng of the Chinese Super League.
Aly and Guizhou mutually agreed to terminate his contract in July of 2017 due to new player regulations in China that decreased the number of foreign players permitted to play.
As far as International experience, Ghazal has appeared five times for the Egyptian National Team, including but not limited to, two starts in qualifying matches for the 2015 African Cup of Nations. He has also represented his country at the U-20 level.
Club and player statements
At the announcement of the signing, head coach Carl Robinson gave a club statement saying, "Aly is a top midfield player who is comfortable on the ball and strong defensively. He fits into the way we want to play, has a lot of experience at a great age, and brings leadership qualities. We are looking forward to welcoming Aly to our club and city."
Ghazal also gave his thoughts on the move.
"When I left China, I had different options to consider but the decision was made easier after speaking with manager Robinson. I felt his big trust in my game as well as how it would suit Vancouver's style of play and this was a very important factor" said Ghazal.
"I also did my own research and what attracted me even more to Vancouver was the great atmosphere around the club and the supporters. I am very much looking forward to this exciting opportunity to play in Major League Soccer for a quality club."
The Whitecaps currently sit one point out of a playoff spot with a 9-8-4 (W-L-T) record and 31 points. You can catch Aly's new club this Saturday as they take on the New England Revolution away from home. The match will be played at Gilette Stadium (8 pm EST | TSN in Canada, MLS Live in the US).