LOCAL SOCCER: Zahavi to make final decision regarding move to China

The 28-year-old’s move to Chinese club Guangzhou R&F looked to be all but complete almost two weeks ago.

Eran Zahav (photo credit: REUTERS)
Eran Zahav
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Eran Zahavi’s future remains hanging in the balance despite his arrival in China on Monday.
The 28-year-old’s move to Chinese club Guangzhou R&F looked to be all but complete almost two weeks ago after Maccabi Tel Aviv agreed to part with its star player for a transfer fee in the excess of $8 million.
However, with his trip to China being delayed by visa and contractual issues until Sunday, Maccabi made Zahavi an improved offer and he was considering not boarding his flight to Guangzhou. He eventually decided to make the trip after Maccabi refused to meet all his demands. Maccabi was willing to offer a four-year contract worth an estimated 2.2 million euro per season compared to the $12.5 million he is set to receive in the next two-anda- half years in China. The sticking point in the negotiations was not the sum he was set to earn but rather exit clauses Maccabi wanted to include and clauses regarding the amount of goals he needs to score every season in order to be paid that amount, as well as insurance issues.
Zahavi is set to undergo a medical in Guangzhou on Tuesday after which the Chinese club expects him to sign the contract. But negotiations with Maccabi are ongoing and Zahavi could still make a dramatic return to the yellow-and-blue.
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-yearold record for goals in a season with 35 last term. He won three championships and one State Cup in threeand- a-half seasons with the yellow-and-blue, while almost single-handedly leading the team to the Champions League group stage last season.
Maccabi already begins its 2016/17 campaign on Thursday when it hosts ND Gorica of Slovenia in the first leg of the first round of the Europa League qualifiers, a far cry from the meetings with Chelsea, Porto and Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League group stage last season.
Thursday’s match in Netanya, which will be Maccabi’s home stadium over the next two seasons due to the rebuilding of Bloomfield Stadium, will see new coach Shota Arveladze make his official debut on the sidelines.
The 43-year-old Georgian, who starred as a player at Ajax and Rangers, has spent most of his coaching career in Turkey. He had been out of work since being fired by Trabzonspor last November after just four months at the helm. Arveladze, who replaced Peter Bosz following his departure for Ajax, is the sixth coach appointed by sports director Jordi Cruyff since his arrival in the summer of 2012.