Tractorsazi Drops Bombshell on Persian Gulf Pro League Transfer Market

From left: Masoud Shojaei, Mohammad Reza Zonuzi  and Ashkan Dejagah
From left: Masoud Shojaei, Mohammad Reza Zonuzi  and Ashkan Dejagah

Tractorsazi dropped a bombshell on the Persian Gulf Pro League transfer market as the club made a double deal in one day to hire the captains of national team, Masoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejagah on Wednesday both with a three-year contract.

The two players spent the past season in foreign leagues. Shojaei had a one-year spell with the champion of Greece Superleague AEK Athens while Dejagah comes from Nottingham Forrest from the second-tier of the England football league.

In a surprise move, the club posted photos of the two players signing their contracts on the club social media accounts while there had been neither rumors nor any news surrounding the transfers.

Both Dejagah and Shojaei, who accompanied Iran’s national soccer team during the 2018 Russia World Cup, had earlier talked about their interest in European leagues after the World Cup.

Shojaei, 34, and Dejagah, 32, seemingly are far from their golden ages at the European leagues. Shojaei had his time in Spanish football leagues for five years with Osasuna, 2008-13 followed by one more year in Las Palmas. Before joining Tractorsazi, he played for two years in Greek clubs Panionios and AEK Athens.

Despite being in the main fixture at the Panionios, Shojaei spent more time on the bench while in AEK Athens.

Dejagah played for Germany U20 team and won the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship title in 2009. The former Nottingham Forrest player also played for the Premier League side Fulham as well as VFL Wolfsburg in Bundesliga during 2007-17.

Spending Big

Since owning the club in April, the apparently wealthy new owner of Tractorsazi, Mohammad Reza Zonuzi, has done a lot for the Tabriz-based club, appointing a world-class manager and some top level players to recreate the popular team which had a poor season last year falling to 10th place.

Zonuzi first hired Scottish manager John Toshack who managed Real Madrid and Real Sociedad in La Liga. The club bought English attacking midfielder Harry Forrester and Irish striker Anthony Stokes two weeks ago and also purchased the first-ever Japanese player of the Persian Pro League last week.

Hiring big names requires writing big checks. The club payments over hiring new players and manager must be a great deal. However Iranian clubs rarely release the value of the players and managers' contracts.

The East Azarbaijan team has finished runner up three times and once was third in the Iran Pro League in the past seven years and is certainly looking higher up this year. It will probably take one full season for football fans to be convinced that the high payments by the club were worth it.

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