(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Croatian goalkeeper Tvrtko Kale will replace Itzik Korenfein in the Betar Jerusalem goal after completing his transfer from Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday morning.
The 33-year-old signed a two year deal with the reigning champion and is looking forward to playing with the team in the Champions League.
"I'm very happy to sign for such a big club," Kale said. "Taking the side to the Champions League is a big dream for me. I can't wait to meet the Betar fans and to start working with the coach."
Kale, who was chosen by his fellow professionals as the Premier League's best goalkeeper last season, was one of the main reasons Maccabi Tel Aviv finished in a surprise third position.
"We had a few candidates for the goalkeeper's position, but the advantage with Kale was that we saw him play last season," coach Yitzhak Schum said. "It's easier to sign a player you know than a player you?ve only seen on a videotape."
Kale will have big shoes to fill at Betar, after fan favorite Korenfein decided to retire last week. Korenfein was Jerusalem's goalkeeper in the last 12 seasons and his surprise departure angered many fans who believed the new coach pushed him to hang up his boots.
Also on Sunday, Elyaniv Barda left for Belgium to begin training with his new club KRC Genk.
The former Hapoel Tel Aviv forward signed for the Belgian runner-up last week and will play with the team in the Champions League qualifiers next month.
Genk, which was only founded 19 years ago, was promoted to the Belgian first division in 1996 and won its first silverware two years later, lifting the Belgian Cup.
In 1999 the team won the league title and in the next season claimed the cup once more.
In 2002 Genk won the championship for a second time and the following year it reached the Champions League group stage.
"This is going to be a very enjoyable experience," Barda said. "I'm leaving Israel with the hope of enhancing my career. I feel like I'm finally ready to make this big move."