Asamoah Gyan's permanent departure from Sunderland looks more likely after the Al Ain chief executive, Carlo Nohra, claimed he was "very confident" of signing the striker on a new deal.
Gyan has helped the United Arab Emirates club to the Pro League title after joining on loan for a fee of £6m in September last year. The Ghana striker has been a key part of that success, netting 22 goals in all competitions, and is reportedly keen to remain in the Middle East. Nohra claimed last month that the club had first option to buy Gyan outright and despite outside interest believes a deal will be struck with Sunderland this summer.
"I'm very confident that he will be staying," Nohra said. "He has indicated on a number of occasions that he would like to remain at the club. There is a loan agreement that we need to work out with Sunderland, but what is really important is that the player wants to be here and we would like to keep him. So now it's about working out the logistics of a transfer. That doesn't mean it's going to happen, but the seeds are there for us to ensure that this becomes a long-term deal."
After paying the initial £6m to acquire Gyan's services for the season, reports have suggested Al Ain can pay a further £3m to complete a permanent deal.
The 26-year-old will have two years of the contract he signed when he joined Sunderland from Rennes during the summer of 2010 remaining at the end of this season, and his future could have a major bearing on manager Martin O'Neill's transfer plans.
Gyan arrived on Wearside after a series of impressive displays for his country at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa as then manager Steve Bruce invested a club record £13.1m on him.
It took Gyan time to get used to the Premier League, but he announced his arrival in earnest with his first goal for the club at Wigan.
He managed 11 goals last season as he, Darren Bent and Danny Welbeck vied for places in the starting line-up before Bent's January departure for Aston Villa, and also scored for Ghana in a friendly against England. It nevertheless came as something of a shock when, hours before the club's home game with Chelsea on 10 September, they announced that Gyan had joined Al Ain on loan.