Dubai football club al-Nasr becomes first Arab club to sign Israeli player

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Al-Nasr have signed midfielder Dia Saba from Chinese Super League club Guangzhou R&F on a two-year deal, becoming the first Arab club to sign a player from Israel.

The move comes less than two weeks after the United Arab Emirates normalised relations with Israel.

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“Al-Nasr has completed the procedures with Dia Saba ... in a contract that extends for two seasons after he successfully passed medical examinations this morning,” the UAE Pro League club said in a statement.

Saba, who is of Palestinian origin, was born in Israel and began his professional career with Beitar Nes Tubruk before joining Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2012.

He had spells at Maccabi Petah Tikva, Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Be’er Sheva before moving to Guangzhou R&F, where he scored 18 goals in 36 appearances. He has won 10 caps for Israel.

Saba joins Cape Verde winger Ryan Mendes, Curacao winger Brandley Kuwas, and Portuguese midfielder Tuze as Al-Nasr’s overseas players.

Al-Nasr were sixth in the standings before the 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The new season will begin next month.

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