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 is about to embark on a new era, with star Eran Zahavi on the verge of completing a move to China and Georgian Shota Arveladze set to become the team’s new head coach.
Despite the yellow-and-blue’s initial rejection of Chinese club Guangzhou R&F’s offer for Zahavi, an improved deal in the region of $8 million is all but done after the 28-year-old pleaded to be allowed to accept a fantastically lucrative contract. Zahavi is set to 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 yellow-and 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.
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-ahalf seasons with the yellowand- blue, while almost single- handedly leading the team to the Champions League group stage in the past season.
While Zahavi is on his way out, the 43-year-old Arveladze is on his way in. The former Ajax and Rangers player 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. Peter Bosz only joined Maccabi in January, but his departure was announced following the State Cup final loss to Maccabi Haifa three weeks ago, with the Dutchman receiving an offer he couldn’t refuse from his native Ajax.
After ending the club’s 10-year championship drought in 2012/13, Oscar Garcia, who was Cruyff’s first recruit, left for Brighton & Hove Albion of the English Championship. Paulo Sousa of Portugal replaced him and led the team to a second straight league title before leaving for FC Basel. Oscar returned for a short stint in the summer of 2013, but left before the league campaign even began due to the security situation at the time.
Pako Ayestaran, also of Spain, was hired in his place and led the team to an unprecedented domestic treble in 2014/15. However, his contract wasn’t extended.
Slavisa Jokanovic of Serbia took Pako’s place, but after guiding the team to the Champions League group stage for the first time in 11 years, he bolted last December for Fulham of the English Championship and was replaced by Bosz.