Whitecaps sign Egyptian central midfielder Aly Ghazal

Ahmed Ghazal (right) battles for the ball with Sporting's Andre Martins. (Francisco Seco/AP Photo)

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed central midfielder Aly Ghazal with the use of targeted allocation money.

Ghazal, 25, has agreed to an Major League Soccer contract through 2018 with a club option for 2019.

He has spent most of his career with Portuguese Primeira Liga side C.D. Nacional, playing five seasons from 2012 to 2017. The six-foot-two midfielder started 102 of his 107 appearances in the Primeira Liga and became the first Egyptian player to become a captain of a top-level European football team in 2016.

In January 2017, Ghazal was transferred to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng FC. However, due to new Chinese Football Association player regulations that decreased the number of foreign players permitted, Ghazal did not make an appearance for the Chinese Super League club. Ghazal and Guizhou mutually agreed to terminated his contract in July.

Internationally, the native of Aswan, Egypt has made five senior appearances for his national team, including two starts in qualifying matches for the 2015 African Cup of Nation. Ghazal has also represented Egypt at the U-20 level.

He will occupy an international roster spot and officially join the club’s roster pending receipt of his work permit, visa, and medical examinations.