Habsi all set to part ways with Al Hilal, eyes England return

Former Oman captain Ali al Habsi is all set to part ways with Saudi Arabia giant Al Hilal and is ready to embrace new opportunities including a possible return to England. Habsi, who flew to Riyadh from Muscat on Wednesday night, is expected to formalise his departure from the Saudi club in the next couple of days.

In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily on Wednesday, Habsi said, “I had a good experience at Al Hilal. It gave me a good insight to Arab football and I would like to thank the Hilal Club management and owners for their support during my two years of stay.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to Al Hilal fans, who are really passionate.”

The 37 year old Habsi added that 'time has come for me to explore new opportunities' but 'my favourite' would be to return to England. “I had my best times in England and those years are very close to my heart. Hopefully, I could make a return,” said the experienced shotstopper.

The goalkeeper spent two years with Reading Club between 2015 and 2017 before making a move to Al Hilal.

Habsi had an excellent season with the Royals, having won the club's player of the season award in both campaigns. According to a close family source, Habsi could be available on a free transfer as Al Hilal is trying to make room for its non-Saudi quota in the upcoming season.

Habsi was a popular figure during his time at Reading, after his earlier stints with Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic.

The family source added that besides 'a number' of Championship and League One sides who are interested, there have been enquiries from China and other countries too for the Omani international.

Habsi had played 91 times for Reading and his last game was the Championship playoff final defeat to Huddersfield Town in May 2017.

Habsi moved to England from Lyn Oslo in Norway when he joined Bolton Wanderers in 2005, but after struggling to break into the playing XI at the club, the Omani international moved to Wigan Athletic in 2010.

The ‘keeper spent five years at the club – including a brief loan spell at Brighton – before joining Reading in 2015. In total, Habsi made over 250 appearances in English football, playing at both English Premier League and Championship level before leaving Reading for Al Hilal in 2017. Since moving to Saudi Arabia, Habsi has made 42 appearances in two seasons with Al Hilal.

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