Sporting Clube de Portugal unveiled on Monday its first summer signing, the Moroccan International Zakaria Labyad who signed a five-year contract with a buy out clause for 50 million euros ($62.64 million). The deal makes it the most expensive transfer of an Arab footballer.
Any future transfer of the former PSV Eindhoven player could increase the midfielder’s value to that of Spaniard Fernando Torres who moved from Liverpool to Chelsea for 50 million euros, fourth in the top 10 list of most expensive transfers in football.
Labyad has been a long-term target for Lisbon, as well as several European clubs including Benfica.
PSV “outraged” with deal
Cristiano Ronalda, who rose at Sporting, moved to Manchester United for 15 million euros in 2003 ($18.79 million) before topping the list of the most expensive transfer in football history when he moved to Real Madrid in 2009 for 93.9 million euros ($116.74 million).
When Labyad was presented to the press on the pitch on Monday, he stated his hopes for continued success in his career after leading his PSV to victory in the Netherlands Cup, as well as finishing third in Dutch Eredivise.
Labyad, who turned 19 in March said: “I want to be playing Champions League football next season.”
Sporting is in preparations for their UEFA Europa League campaign in the play-offs, and will offer Labyad Number 10 position.
“I will play where the coach wants,” he said. “But if you give me the choice, I would prefer to act as attacking midfielder behind the striker.”
The Lisbon club announcement was met with outrage in Eindhoven with the Dutch side claiming that the teenager was still under contract until 2014. However, Labyad’s lawyer insists that the player was a free agent and does not need PSV permission to move to Portugal, adding that the contract is invalid since it was signed when Labyad was 16.
Earlier this year, Labyad had rejected PSV’s offer to extend his deal until 2014.
“This is disrespectful, both from Labyad and Sporting,” PSV sporting director Marcel Brands told Eindhovens Dagblad.
PSV reportedly intend to fine Labyad for failing to show on the first pre-season training this past weekend.
“Why am I not at De Herdgang?” Labyad wrote on his Twitter account. “Because I just got out of bed.”
Brands is confident that the dispute with Sporting over Labyad’s transfer will be resolved. “We choose to consultations with Sporting Lisbon,” he said Wednesday in Aalten.
Labyad has been described as a potential “New Nani” in reference to Manchester United Portugese ace Luís Carlos Almeida who moved from Sporting to the English premier league club in 2007.
“He can play as attacking midfielder in the center, but also as a second striker alongside a striker, and even on the right side. It’s a new Nani! He is very strong at the individual [level] and believes that Sporting did an excellent business,” said Ton du Chatinier, Dutch assistant to Guus Hiddink, manager of Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.