(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Defending Premier League champion Hapoel Beersheba signed one of the rising stars of Israeli soccer in the final minutes of the summer transfer window on Wednesday night, surprisingly adding to its squad 20-yearold midfielder Michael Ohana.
There was no indication Ohana was set to leave Ashdod SC until the deal was officially announced right before the deadline, with Beersheba to pay NIS 4.5 million for his services.
Ashdod also retains a 50 percent stake of Ohana’s next transfer, while receiving midfielder Dan Bitton on a two-year loan deal.
Ohana signed a five-year contract with Beersheba, and while he will be unable to play for the team in the Europa League group stage, he brings the squad crucial depth in local action and plenty of unfulfilled potential.
Ohana has made 71 appearances for Ashdod since his debut four years ago and is one of the stars of the Israel under-21 national team, scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Liechtenstein on Tuesday.
Beersheba enjoyed an excellent 24 hours of business after Nigerian midfielder John Ogu signed a contract extension until the end of 2018/19 on Monday night. The 28-year-old has established himself as one of the best players on the team and in the entire league since joining the club two years ago. He was rumored to be on course for a move to Europe this summer, but remained at the club and was rewarded with a significant salary raise after also helping Beersheba reach the Europa League group stage.
“Happy to continue representing Hapoel Beer Sheva. Moved to Israel two seasons ago and its been great support and love,” Ogu tweeted.
Beitar Jerusalem was one of the busiest teams in the final day of the transfer window, but it nevertheless ended it empty- handed. Beitar had agreed personal terms with Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Barak Itzhaki and was also considering bringing in Gili Vermouth from Maccabi Haifa. But the yellow-and-blue refused to release Itzhaki for free and Vermouth ultimately elected to stay at Haifa. The 31-yearold midfielder, who joined Haifa earlier this year after struggling to settle at Maccabi Tel Aviv, has found himself out of favor with new Greens coach Rene Meulensteen.
“It is important for us to state that the player didn’t express a wish to leave and is remaining at Maccabi Haifa,” read a club press release.