Iran Pro League outfit Persepolis (Pirouzi) have embarked on a frenzied signing spree in preparation for the new season which has put five new players so far at the disposal of Dutch coach Arie Haan.
While wingback Nikbakht Vahedi has shifted loyalties from archrivals Esteghlal on a free transfer, the club has succeeded in snapping up midfielder Hossein Badamaki from Abo Moslem, Nima Ghavidel from Niroye Zamini, Iraqi hitman Louai Saleh from Iraqâ€™s Al Quwa Al Jawiya and Masood Zare from Saba Battery.
Vahediâ€™s move to Persepolis, which brings to an end a no-poaching pact between the two Tehran giants, has angered Esteghlal fans but is bound to delight coach Haan who has been on the lookout for someone of Vahediâ€™s calibre on the left flank.
â€œI and Mehrzad Madanchi will make Persepolis the strongest side in Iran,â€ said a confident Vahedi after pulling on the shirt of his new club. â€œI will try to perform better here (with Persepolis) than at Esteghlal. I am sure the fans will help me in this.â€
The last big name – and acrimonious transfer – between the two clubs was six years ago when Mehdi Hashemi Nassab moved the other way to Esteghlal for a record sum.
Hashemi Nassab had some sound advice for Vahedi. â€œBe ready for dangerous reaction and massive abuse at the stadiums in the near future. Close your ears from now on!â€
Persepolis last won the league in 2001-02 and finished ninth in the 16-team standings last season.
The big hole left by Vahediâ€™s exit has been filled by Esteghlal with the signing of 24-year-old Behshad Yavarzade on a two-year deal. The midfielder stages a comeback for Esteghlal, who are will see AFC Champions League action next year, after spending a year honing his skills at Ghandi Club.