VANCOUVER, BC - Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that the club has signed central midfielder Aly Ghazal with the use of Targeted Allocation Money.
Ghazal, 25, has agreed to an MLS contract through 2018, with a club option for 2019. He will occupy an international roster spot and officially join the club's roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and medical examinations.
Aly Ghazal - Whitecaps FC central midfielder
- Started 112 of 117 appearances for Portuguese Primeira Liga side C.D. Nacional from 2012-17
- First Egyptian player to become a captain of a top-level European football team
- Transferred to Chinese Super League club Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng FC in January 2017
- Five senior international appearances for Egypt
"Aly is a top midfield player who is comfortable on the ball and strong defensively," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. "He fits into the way we want to play, has a lot of experience at a great age, and brings leadership qualities. We are looking forward to welcoming Aly to our club and city."
"When I left China, I had different options to consider but the decision was made easier after speaking with manager Robinson," added Ghazal. "I felt his big trust in my game as well as how it would suit Vancouver’s style of play and this was a very important factor. I also did my own research and what attracted me even more to Vancouver was the great atmosphere around the club and the supporters. I am very much looking forward to this exciting opportunity to play in Major League Soccer for a quality club."
Whitecaps FC also confirmed on Thursday that the club has acquired an international roster spot through December 31, 2017 from New York City FC in exchange for $75,000 of General Allocation Money. With these transactions, Whitecaps FC now have 10 international spots through the 2017 MLS season, all of which are occupied.
Ghazal has spent most of his career with Portuguese Primeira Liga side C.D. Nacional, playing five seasons from 2012 until 2017. The 6-foot-2 Ghazal, who can also line up at centre back, started 102 of his 107 appearances in the Pimeira Liga. In Portugal, Ghazal became the first Egyptian player to become a captain of a top-level European football team in 2016.
While with Nacional, Ghazal also had 14 combined appearances in the Taça da Liga and Taça de Portugal competitions. He was a member of the Nacional side that reached the semifinal of the Taça de Portugal in 2015, bowing to eventual champions Sporting CP that included current Whitecaps FC striker Fredy Montero. He also made two starts in the UEFA Europa League, scoring a goal against FC Dinamo Minsk in August 2014.
In January 2017, Ghazal was transferred to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng FC. However, due to the new Chinese Football Association player regulations, which decreased the number of foreign players permitted to play, Ghazal did not make an appearance for the Chinese Super League club. In July, Ghazal and Guizhou HFZC mutually agreed to terminated his contract.
Internationally, the native of Cairo, Egypt has made five senior appearances for his national team, including two starts in qualifying matches for the 2015 African Cup of Nation. Ghazal has also represented Egypt at the U-20 level.
In his youth, Ghazal developed with Cairo-based clubs El Sekka El Hadid SC in 2000-06, and Wadi Degla SC from 2006-13.
Ghazal is set to arrive in Vancouver this Friday and will be available to the media following his first training session on Tuesday, August 15.
Position: Central midfielder
Weight: 195 pounds
Date of Birth: February 1, 1992 in Cairo, Egypt
Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
Previous Club: Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng FC (Chinese Super League)
How Acquired: Free agent signed on August 10, 2017 with the use of Targeted Allocation Money