Maccabi Tel Aviv captain Eran Zahavi (center) scored the only goal in last night’s 1-0 win over Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium, bringing the yellow-and-blue within a single point of leader Hapoel Beersheba..
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv left for its pre-season training camp in Austria on Thursday without captain Eran Zahavi, but with new coach Shota Arveladze.
Zahavi is set to complete his record move to Chinese club Guangzhou R&F over the weekend, leaving a massive void the yellowand- blue will struggle to fill.
Maccabi is set to receive over $8 million for Zahavi, the most lucrative transfer ever involving an Israeli club. The 28-year-old will earn an estimated $12.5 million over the next two-and-a-half years, as well as a signing bonus in the excess of $5 million.
Zahavi agreed to waive the release clause in his contract last year when the yellowand- blue made him the highest earning player in Israeli soccer history with a contract extension that earns him over one million euros a year.
Maccabi was willing to hand him another raise, but it was never going to match the offer from China and club owner Mitch Goldhar looks set to finally grant Zahavi his wish to move on.
Zahavi and his wife cut their holiday in Thailand short earlier this week and flew to Toronto to meet Goldhar in person in order to persuade him to reach a deal with Guangzhou.
Zahavi was still scheduled to fly out with the team to Austria on Thursday, but shortly before takeoff he left the airport and returned home, with Maccabi CEO Martin Bain telling the club’s official website: “Due to the ongoing discussions over the past few days we reached a decision that Eran will not travel with the rest of the team to Austria.”
It is difficult to overstate Zahavi’s importance to Maccabi since joining in January of 2013.
He has led the Premier League in scoring in each of the past three seasons, breaking the 61-year-old record for goals in a season with 35 last term. He won three championships and one State Cup in three-and-a-half seasons with the yellow-and-blue, while almost single- handedly leading the team to the Champions League group stage this past season.
The man who will have to guide Maccabi as it gets used to life without Zahavi is 43-year-old Georgian Arveladze.
The former Ajax and Rangers star has spent most of his coaching career in Turkey. He has been out of work since being fired by Trabzonspor last November after just four months at the helm. Arveladze will be the sixth coach appointed by sports director Jordi Cruyff since his arrival in the summer of 2012.
“We are delighted to have secured the services of the man who was one of our main targets from the moment we set out to appoint a new head coach,” Cruyff told the club’s website. “Shota has such a strong personality and track record in football, that we strongly believe in his ability to achieve things with this club.”
Arveladze told the official website: “I know a lot about Maccabi, about its history and tradition as well as how strong and ambitious everyone in and around the club are.This is why I am so happy to be here and I can’t wait to start working.”