Qatar’s local football teams have made strides in signing global talent.
Qatar’s football summer spending spree has come to an end, with the Gulf country enticing several foreign footballers as the local league works to ramp up the competition.
As it stands, there are 91 foreign players spread out among the 12 teams of the Qatar Stars League, recently renamed EXPO Stars League.
Qatar Football Association’s (QFA) leaders have voiced measures to enhance approaches on and off the pitch after a surge in interest following the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Among such steps to boost the local football scene was registering a maximum of 7 foreign players within the 28-player list of the first-team squads in clubs.
The new policy was a notable change from previous seasons which limited the number of foreign players on Qatari teams.
Several clubs have taken advantage of the new policy, rebuilding their squad as they prepare to compete in this year’s season.
Qatar’s Al-Arabi club is one of the teams that has inked the talents of several global stars, including this year’s biggest name to arrive, Marco Verratti.
The former Paris Saint-Germain Football footballer reached Qatar after serving 11 years with the French giants.
Verratti’s transfer fee is reportedly close to €45m (£38.6m) – a record for the Qatar League.
In Qatar, the Italian midfielder will share a locker room alongside his former teammates Rafinha Alcantara and Abdou Diallo.
In September last year, Brazilian footballer Rafinha left PSG for Al-Arabi on a two-season contract. His arrival at Al Arabi came as the club struggled to compete at the top of the table.
Al Arabi, which currently ranks sixth, has also managed to secure to secure Diallo on a four-year deal. The addition of Diallo marked the ninth signing for the Qatari club, following Syria’s Omar Al Somah and Spain’s Simo.
Among the other clubs, Al Arabi has fared the best in signings, especially with the drawing of the PSG stars.
The crowned champions of the Qatari league have managed to acquire a solid squad to keep them in competitive order this season.
Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho joined Qatari side Al Duhail on a season-long loan from his club Aston Villa.
Becoming one of the most expensive players to embark in Qatar, Coutinho will be under the guide of famed Argentine player and coach Hernan Crespo.
Within Crespo’s arsenal is Ibrahima Diallo, who left Southampton after almost three years to join the Qatari side this year.
Al Duhail was also able to collar the talent of Italian youngster Ibrahima Bamba from Portugal’s Vitoria de Guimaraes.
French professional footballer Isaac Lihadji and South Korean Moon-hwan Kim have also joined the Duhail squad in their hopes to win another title.
The 28-year-old Moon-hwan is the second player from South Korea to join Al Duhail, following in the footsteps of Nam Tae-hee.
Sitting first in the Qatar League Stars, Al Rayyan has stepped up vigorously since their collapse last season.
Earlier this year, Al-Rayyan SC signed Brazilians Gabriel Pereira, Rodrigo Moreno, and Thiago Mendes alongside Portuguese defender Andre Amaro.
For a team that has fallen far from its glorious days, Al-Rayyan has picked up the right tools needed to get back on track.
Under Leonardo Jardim, the Al Rayyan leadership will look for a new coaching method after it parted ways with Chilean coach Nicolas Cordova this year.