(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv has won the race to sign one of the most sought-after
commodities in the Israeli soccer transfer market this summer, announcing on
Sunday that it has reached a surprise deal with Maccabi Petah Tikva for the
services of striker Omer Damari.
The 22-year-old, who scored 15 goals in
31 Premier League appearances last season, seemed destined to sign with Scottish
powerhouse Celtic last week.
However, Petah Tikva owner Amos Luzon
outraged the Bhoys by declaring that a deal had been struck even though the
Scots claimed that they had never even made an official bid.
wasted little time and agreed to meet Petah Tikva’s asking price, paying 1.5
million euros for a 50 percent stake of Damari.
“I’m very excited to be
joining Hapoel,” Damari said. “I have always dreamed of playing for this club
and I would like to thank Eli Tabib and Dror Kashtan for signing me. The
negotiations with Celtic didn’t work out, but for me Hapoel is like
The addition of Damari will help pacify Hapoel fans angry with
the on-going dispute between owners Tabib and Moni Harel and the departure of
several star players.
Damari will help replace Ben Sahar, who after
one-season on-loan at Hapoel is set to join French club AJ Auxerre, and Itai
Shechter, who is close to completing his move to Kaiserslautern, joining Hapoel
teammate Gili Vermut.
“Damari is one of the best strikers in Israel and
it is no coincidence that he has played for the national team at such a young
age,” Kashtan said of the striker, who has two goals in two appearances for