Latics seal Al Habsi swoop

The Oman international spent last season on loan at the DW Stadium

and was keen to return but the deal was held up because the two

clubs could not come to an agreement on the fee. However, the

Latics are believed to have met Wanderers’ £4million valuation

and Al Habsi, Wigan’s player of the season, was able to make his

move permanent. Al Habsi was Wigan’s player of the season last term

and he revealed, after four years as the understudy to Jussi

Jaaskelainen at Bolton, it was the first time he felt like a real

professional footballer. “To come from Bolton on a season loan and

get player of the year was great – especially as it was the first

time in my life I had played like a professional in terms of every

week,” said the 29-year-old. “The thing with Bolton was Jussi

Jaaskelainen was there but I showed myself 100% when Jussi was

injured and I got my chance and so everyone knew what I had. “In

the end this is football. Every manager has his ideas and the most

important thing was when I was there I gave 100%. “But I want to

say thanks to the gaffer (Wigan boss Roberto Martinez) for giving

me the confidence to come to his club. “It is like my club now

having already been here for a season. “At my age this is the time

to play week after week and I think I have come to the right club.

“Now it is my job to show myself more than I showed last season.”

Martinez made Al Habsi’s signature his priority this summer and

although there was a time when it seemed the deal was deadlocked

because of a difference of opinion on the price, the Spaniard was

confident it would go through. However, he would have liked it to

have been more straightforward, but at least he has secured the

player before the squad start back for pre-season training later

this week. “I wouldn’t say it was a predictable signing,” said the

Spaniard. “When you know that something could happen that is often

the hardest one to achieve but I am extremely pleased Ali was

focused to come here and we have signed a player we wanted. “When

you are signing a good player it is never easy. “Ali had a

phenomenal season, winning the player of the year award, and to do

that as a loan player says a lot about him. “We signed him for the

long term, someone who is a true ambassador for the club. “He is

the right age in terms of goalkeepers and I am extremely pleased.

“I know the fans will be delighted. We had to work really hard to

get a player who it was well known had had a terrific season but I

know has another level to go to.” Al Habsi is confident he can

better his performances last season, when the club fought against

relegation until their safety was secured on the last day of the

season. “I have to show more for the fans because the support they

showed me last season was fantastic,” added the goalkeeper. “The

way we finished last season, everyone was so happy. We have to

improve and take it to the next level.”