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Zarate takes the loan route out of Qatar; seals deal with Birmingham City
Evaristo | 27 Jan 2008

If you were pondering whether Serie A, the Premiership or Primera Liga was the biggest recruiters of top football stars, hold your breath. The Qatar football league is increasingly becoming a hotbed for drawing football stars with the lure of huge transfe

ZARATE TAKES the loan route out of Qatar to seal deal with Blues
 If you were pondering whether Serie A, the Premiership or Primera Liga was the biggest recruiters of top football stars, hold your breath. The Qatar football league is increasingly becoming a hotbed for drawing football stars with the lure of huge transfer amounts
 
 Argentine striker Mauro Zarate was the young face that the Qatari football aficionados were looking for to propel the image of Qatar football league and entice other European youngsters to plunge into the Qatari League. They succeeded albeit for a brief period. The " marriage" and the subsequent 'Honeymoon" between the club and the player lasted for just six months.
 
The twenty-year-old who signed for Al Sadd has moved out from Qatar and moved to England to shore up his career in the English Premier league. 
 
The Blues have agreed terms on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal.
 
The deal represents the first transfer of the month to be struck by Blues boss Alex McLeish.
And the move to opt for the loan options was partly fuelled by the player's demand to move out of Qatar.
 
 Christian Otero, the player's agent has suggested to Sky Sports News that his client’s recent loan to Birmingham City is owing to the player’s demands.
 
“He wanted to leave Qatar and is delighted to be back in a big league,” Otero told the British sports channel.
 
“He is an outstanding player and will show that.”
 
Although signing off from the Q-League with a goal in second-placed Sadd’s recent astonishing 4-0 demolition of league leader Gharrafa, it is widely acknowledged that the young Argentine did not show his best form in Doha, while making 12 appearances for the club, in the ten-team Qatar National League
 
"Al Sadd club received an offer from the Premier League club Birmingham City to seek the service of the club's Argentina star Mauro Zarate on loan from January until end of the season with a possible ultimate transfer," reads a statement on the club's official website.
 
Zarate was member of the Argentina Under-20 which won the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, scoring the winning goal in the final against the Czech Republic, in 2007.
 
Zarate is very highly rated in his homeland and shocked many when he accepted a move to Al Sadd when he left Velez Sarsfield last summer. The 20-year old star joined the Qatari champions in the summer in a deal worth close to $20 million but never had a settled run in the middle-east.
 
There were difference off the importance of the player and his stay at the club.
“There are opposing views between the club administration and myself over the presence of Zarate," the Dutch coach Adriaanse had said earlier.
 
"I see he is too individual as a player while he needs to associate his game to the collective aura, ”Adriaanse had stated.    
Asked about rumours suggesting he is pushing to axe the player from the club during the winter transfer window in January in favour of a new foreign striker, the coach had said: “I simply don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, or anyone in the club."
 
The Argentina international joined his team and engaged in tough training for a possible return to the starting line-up at the start of the New Year.
 
 "I am trying to produce better performance to rise up to the expectation of Al-Sadd fans. I am yet to offer what my club and crowds deserve", the striker was qupted as saying on the club website.
 
"When I was playing with my ex-club Sarsfield, it was sort of harmony as we played for long together. I gather I need time to adopt and get my new colleagues to get themselves adapted to my style", he adds.
 
The move to Birmingham could prove crucial to Zarate's career. Under the spotlight of the English Premier League, he is likely to be judged much more effectively than in the Arabic backwaters of international football and a move to a bigger European club is probably his eventual objective.
 
Whatever happens, it seems unlikely that Zarate will return to Qatar at the end of his loan deal and Sadd will be looking to recoup some of the QAR 70,000,000 that they have paid for his services.
 
Jutting into the western part of the Persian Gulf off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, which occupies a peninsula, has the world's third largest natural gas reserves and the highest per capita income. This small country has been raking in the oil dollars and the football crazy Qataris yearn for top class football action.
 
Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha, Cameroonian Bill Tchato and Australian Tony Popovic, were the headline-grabbing players who had played earlier in the Persian Gulf country.
 
Carlos Tenorio, Ivan Hurtado and Christian Lara, all from Ecuador, and Jacek Bak of Poland are the other notable stars who have enthralled the crowds in Qatar..
 
Argentine superstar Gabriel Batistuta, former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf, Brazilian World Cup winner Romario and Man City's Ali Benarbia have all been plied their trade in the this Middle Eastern state in seasons gone by.
 
Argentinean striker Batistuta was handed U.S.$8 million over two years -- $5.5 million the first year and $2.5 million the second year.
 
With an estimated population of 8,10,000, pre-dominat migrant population Qatar remains one of Asian football's enigmas, particularly at the youth level. They advanced to the final at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship, but lost to then West Germany. They had qualified for the FIFA event after finishing second in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-20 Championship, losing to South Korea in the final.
 
In 1990, Qatar finished fourth in the FIFA U-17 Championship. Earlier that year, they finished as champions in the AFC U-17 Championship.
 
In AFC U-17 Championships, Qatar were runners up at least five times, in 1984, 1986, 1992, 1994 and 1998.
 
At the senior level, Qatar won the Gulf Cup twice in 2004 and 1992. On both these occasions, Qatar was the host. The national senior team has also qualified for the Asian Cup finals, at least seven times, in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2004.
The recent cowing glory came when they won the Asian Games final in the games hosted by them in 2006.
 
In order to sustain their success, the Qataris have once again turned their attention to youth development, particularly through the Aspire Academy, which was launched in September 2004.
 
Zarate was following in the steps of some of the big names like Romario, Gabriela Batistua, who have all plied their trade in Qatar but the only difference between was the established star had moved to Qatar at the fag end of their careers while he was an emerging star trying to get hold in the big man's world.