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Israeli Tal Ben-Haim completed a dream move to English Premiership club Chelsea on Thursday evening, signing a four year contract with the FA Cup holder.
"We can confirm we have completed the signing of Tal Ben-Haim," the official announcement read. "The Israel international completed his medical and agreed personal terms on a four-year deal."
The 25-year-old was out of contract at English team Bolton Wanderers where he made 110 appearances over the last three seasons.
"I'm very happy to fulfill my dream and sign for Chelsea," Ben-Haim told Chelsea TV on Thursday. "I feel fantastic to be part of this amazing club and I'm looking forward to start. I'm very excited about the first games in the Champions League.
"If you ask every player, they want to play for Chelsea. It's one of the best teams in the world so I'm very happy to be part of that."
Ben-Haim spoke about the dilemma he faced after former Bolton boss Sam Allardyce attempted to convince him to move to his new club Newcastle United.
"This was a very difficult decision because I had to decide between Chelsea and Newcastle. I have a great deal of respect for Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, but I'm happy that as of today I'm a Chelsea player."
Ben-Haim will earn an estimated 60,000 a week at Stamford Bridge.
Earlier on Thursday, Allardyce admitted that Ben-Haim will not be joining his side.
"We have had a long, hard go, but I think the lure of the [former] champions has perhaps just pipped me at the post," he said. "I'm sad I can't bring him here and work with him again. I like the lad an awful lot and we know each other really well. But, like I said, the lure of Chelsea is a big one."
Ben-Haim began his career at Maccabi Tel Aviv, winning the Israeli championship in 2003.
The defender signed for Bolton in 2004 after a trial, and quickly became a fixture in the team's first 11.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho attempted to sign the Israeli in this year's January transfer window, but Bolton turned down the Blues' offer, deciding to keep the player until his contract ran out.
Ben-Haim, who will join up with Chelsea for the pre-season visit to the United States, will face massive competition for a place in the teams starting lineup.
John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Alex, who is expected to arrive from PSV Eindhoven in the coming days, will all be ahead of Ben-Haim in the pecking order for a starting position in the center of defense, likely leaving the Israeli to warm the bench for most of the season.
When asked to describe his qualities on Thursday, Ben-Haim, who has played 22 times for Israel, said: "I don't like to talk much about myself, but I can guarantee that I'll give 100 percent for the club and hopefully I won't disappoint anybody, especially myself. I'm sure that everything will be okay and I can't wait to start."
Liverpool close in
Also on Thursday, Champions League finalist Liverpool confirmed it is chasing Israel captain Yossi Benayoun.
The West Ham United midfielder is delaying signing a new five-year contract at Upton Park, despite having verbally agreed to the deal three weeks ago.
"I can confirm we have made an approach for Yossi Benayoun, but the figures quoted are completely wrong. Other than that we don't want to say any more," Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said.
Liverpool was reported to have offered 3 million for Benayoun, which was immediately rejected by the east London side.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is believed to have been following the progress of Benayoun since his days with Spanish side Racing Santander.
Benitez was especially impressed with the Israeli's performance in the 2006 FA Cup final where Benayoun produced an outstanding performance against Liverpool.
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