Asamoah Gyan, the league’s leading scorer, conspicuously left open yesterday the possibility of playing in a club other than Al Ain next season, saying he would “go anywhere” to play if the conditions were right.
He said he would expect interest from “a lot of clubs” if he and Al Ain cannot come to an agreement now that the Pro League champions have exercised their right to buy him from Sunderland, the English Premier League side, who sent him to the UAE on loan.
“It could be anywhere,” he said at a press conference organised by the club. “I’m ready to go to anywhere, anywhere that I feel comfortable.
“I need to make the right decision … but I need to take my time. I don’t make decisions on my own; I go back to my family and my agent and everybody and I will see where my future lies.
“I need to take the right decision. So far, I’m 100 per cent happy here but I don’t know if I will stay in Al Ain or if I will go back to anywhere to play.”
He agreed that the club had made clear their preference that the Ghana international stay on, but he and Al Ain may have divergent opinions on how much he should be paid next season should he decide to remain at the club.
Reports say Gyan has been paid as much as €3 million (Dh14.3m) this season, while Sunderland were paid a €6m loan fee for his services.
The loan fee would be deducted from a pre-determined transfer fee, should Al Ain take up the contractual option to buy the player.
Awad Al Darmaki, a member of the Al Ain board of directors, said he hoped Gyan would give Al Ain a second year and pointed out some of the positives of another season in the UAE.
“The club provided everything that Asamoah Gyan needed: a great coach, a great squad and great fans,” he said.
“He found himself again here after a miserable World Cup and again in the African championships [Cup of Nations]. He has said he wants to stay, but it’s football, and many clubs would be interested in him. We hope he will stay.”
Gyan missed a critical penalty for Ghana in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals and the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations this year, and he has been wounded by criticism from his compatriots.
Gyan said he had no interest in returning to Sunderland, noting that he never heard from Martin O’Neill, the coach.
“No, no, no,” he said. “I haven’t spoken to anybody since I came here. I heard the manager would call me, and I was waiting for that, but no call came. I’m still here.”
Gyan, 26, is the first player to come to the UAE from the Premier League, which he called “the top in the world, and I respect that and I have said it before”.
Asked to compare England and the UAE, he added: “They’re different. Talking about the UAE league, the slight difference is the atmosphere, the fans shouting and pushing their players to go. It’s the only thing I don’t see here.
“In terms of football, I see the same things here. The difference is the atmosphere: you see a packed stadium in England.”
Later in the day, he was to meet Akwesi Appiah, the new Ghana coach, who was expected to ask Gyan to end his “break” from international football.
“I’m one of the more important players in the team and he needs me,” he said. “He has come, and maybe we have some talk.”