In the 2018 season when Johor Darul Ta'zim were left depleted in the attacking third of the pitch after the second retirement of Luciano Figueroa and the departure of Jorge Pereryra Diaz, the club were on the look out for players to beef up the squad.
While Fernando Marquez and Fernando Elizari were eventually brought to the club in the second transfer window, one other player was on the radar of the Super League champions and it was none other than the player that helped end their run in the 2018 AFC Champions League qualifying round.
Heberty Fernandes de Andrade or commonly known as just Heberty had scored twice for Muangthong United against JDT in a match that saw the Thai team running away with a 5-2 win. The Brazilian impressed the powers that be at JDT with his performance and was kept in the radar of the club.
HRH Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim met with the press after a meeting with the Sportswriter Association of Malaysia on Monday and confirmed that his team had held negotiations with the 30-year-old this year but the process did not ran its full course.
"It was true (that JDT made a move on Heberty). We approached to sign Heberty at one point from Muangthong but then of course he was asking a price that was too much and Muangthong did not want to sell him at that time because he was their top scorer."
"We did want to sign but it was too expensive. I think we were lucky enough because when we sent our scouts to Thailand, they identified that he might not be suitable for our style of playing. In JDT, the philosophy is that we have 11 men and 11 men have to run.
"Even if you're a striker, you have to run back and defend. We want to unit as a unit in terms of defence and attack, and Heberty was not suited to that type of play. He waits for the ball a bit more. He makes amazing move and is a wonderful player but in terms of work rate and contribution to the team, was not that high as what we wanted.
"So we were lucky enough because our scout gave us that report and because of the price, we pulled out," said Tunku Ismail on Monday.
Heberty started his Asian adventure back in 2012 when he joined Cerezo Osaka in Japan. That was followed by another stint in the J-League with Vegalta Sendai before moving over to Thailand. The decision from Muangthong to demand a higher transfer fee for him is justified as Heberty smashed in 26 goals and 12 assists for them in the Thai League 1 that only just recently concluded.
With Marquez and Elizari both leaving JDT after the end of their respective loan stints, The Southern Tigers are on the hunt once again for attacking options to give them the firepower to ruffle established feathers in the AFC Champions League group stage next season.
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