Omar Abdulrahman is likely to miss the 2019 Asian Cup through injury, dealing a major blow to host nation United Arab Emirates ahead of the tournament
Saudi Arabian champions Al Hilal announced on Tuesday evening that an MRI scan revealed the playmaker tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Reports suggest Abdulrahman will undergo surgery in Barcelona.
Abdulrahman suffered the injury during Saudi's Pro League win over Al Shabab on Saturday while stretching to reach the ball in the opposition's penalty area. The player, offered a contract by Manchester City in 2012 and subsequently linked to a number of major European clubs, was stretchered off the Riyadh pitch and then watched the game in tears from the sidelines.
"I thank Turki Al-Sheikh for making sure I am treated in the best hospitals," Abdulrahman posted on Twitter, referring to the head of the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority, the body that oversees sport in the country.
Abdulrahman starred at the 2015 Asian Cup as the UAE finished third. This was their best result away from home. It was hoped he would lead the charge on home soil as the Whites take on Bahrain, Thailand and India in the group stage of the continental tournament that kicks off on Jan. 5
The injury is also a setback for Al Hilal. The Saudi Arabian team signed the player on a year-long loan in August for a reported fee of €15 million from UAE club Al Ain. Al Hilal have won all their first five games of the league season.