Hapoel Beersheba’s Maor Buzaglo.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
On the back of another chapter in the never-ending Maor Buzaglo saga and with the resumption of its Europa League campaign just around the corner, Hapoel Beersheba aims to ensure it doesn’t allow Maccabi Tel Aviv any closer in the Premier League standings when it hosts Hapoel Ashkelon on Saturday.
Beersheba is coming off a 1-0 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Netanya last weekend which cut the gap at the top to just five points. The reigning champion’s struggles on the road continued with a fourth consecutive away match without a win.
However, that should have little effect on Beersheba’s confidence on Saturday, with Barak Bachar’s team winning nine of 10 home matches in the league so far this season, with the other ending in a draw.
Beersheba, which is unbeaten in league action at Turner Stadium since the opening of its new home at the start of the 2015/16 season, will be looking to gain some momentum against an Ashkelon team which has lost three straight matches to drop into the relegation zone. Beersheba hosts Turkish team Besiktas next Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League round-of-32.
Beersheba, which can increase its lead for at least 48 hours with Maccabi not visiting Maccabi Petah Tikva until Monday, had to deal with distractions on the Buzaglo front yet again this week, with the negotiations between the parties reaching a stalemate once more.
“The demands of Buzaglo’s representatives were extremely high and far beyond what we expected,” said Beersheba in a statement, attempting to keep the process as transparent as possible following multiple previous public run-ins with Buzaglo. “The gap is unbridgeable and that is why we have halted the negotiations.
Maor has proven in the past that he is a professional and we are certain that he will give his all for the success of the team until the end of the season.”
The 29-year-old Buzaglo, whose contract expires at the end of the season, will be one of the hottest commodities in the summer and is believed to be asking in the region of 700,000 euros per season, as well as a signing bonus estimated at 600,000 euros. Beersheba is unlikely to offer Buzaglo more than half-a-million euros per season, and it remains to be seen if Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa, who are also both expected to bid for his services, will agree to meet his demands.
Buzaglo will miss Saturday’s match with a shoulder injury, giving Bachar a few more days until he needs to decide if and how to use the midfielder.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Haifa in the derby, looking to register a second straight victory after snapping a six-match winless streak.
Elsewhere, Beitar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Ra’anana and Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Bnei Yehuda. On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv welcomes Ashdod SC and Bnei Sakhnin faces Hapoel Kfar Saba.
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