Striker heads to UAE

Villanueva leaves Rovers to join Al Shabab

May 18, 2009

Al Shabab have signed attacking midfielder Carlos Villanueva on a four-year deal.

The 23-year-old Chile international will join the United Arab Emirates club from Audax Italiano following a one-year loan spell with Premier League side Blackburn Rovers.

Villanueva began his career with Deportes La Serena in 2002 before moving to Audax and was named Chilean Footballer of the Year in 2007.

"Villanueva is an exciting young player with superb technical skills," Khalid Hamid, a member of Shabab's interim management committee, told The National newspaper.

"He was the best player in Chile before his move to Blackburn, where he has not been given the opportunities he deserved.

"He was probably encouraged by his countryman Jorge Valdivia (Al Ain's attacking midfielder) to accept the offer.

"The chance of working with coach Toninho Cerezo also convinced him to take up the offer."

Villanueva has played 21 games for Rovers, scoring two goals.