Pablo Aimar set to be MSL's highest-paid foreign player

This year, it was Daniel Guiza; next year, it will be Pablo Aimar.

Malaysian Super League (MSL) side Johor Darul Takzim have continued their big-spending ways by capturing the attacking midfielder Aimar, who turned out for Argentina in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals.

After months of speculation surrounding his arrival, the 33-year-old was finally unveiled on Saturday in a press conference at the club's Larkin Stadium ground.

"Having Pablo is the icing on the cake for the Johor DT team next season," said the state's crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, who is also president of the Johor Football Association.

"With his experience and talent, I am confident he will do well for the team."

Aimar's signing came after Johor DT splashed out this year for Spain's Euro 2008 winner Guiza, former Lazio winger Simone del Nero and a whole host of Malaysian internationals like Safee Sali and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.

While Tunku Ismail declined to reveal any figures, Aimar's two-year deal is believed to be worth RM7.2 million (S$2.78 million) annually, which will likely make him MSL's highest-paid foreign player.

Johor DT will, however, be aware that splashing the cash does not necessarily lead to silverware.

After all, they managed to finish only third in this year's MSL and lost to Kelantan in the final of the FA Cup. They are currently third in the Malaysia Cup Group B.

However, Aimar is confident of making a mark on his return to Malaysia, where he first rose to prominence as part of the Argentina side who lifted the 1997 World Youth Championship.

"I have fond memories playing in this country," said the former River Plate, Valencia, Real Zaragoza and Benfica man.

In fact, it was in Larkin that Aimar scored his only goal of the tournament to help his team see off England 2-1 in the round of 16.

At Johor DT, he will link up with two other newcomers who have also spent time in Spain - coach Cesar Ferrando Jimenez and striker Braulio Nobrega.

The club may not be done spending just yet, with a move for Singapore and LionsXII midfielder Hariss Harun reportedly close to completion.

Along with captain Shahril Ishak, Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin, the 22-year-old is one of several key players believed to be nearing an exit from the MSL champions' ranks after this season.


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