Maccabi Haifa to continue squad overhaul with Shechter

Maccabi Haifa’s new player, Eliran Atar (photo credit: MACCABI HAIFA WEBSITE)
Maccabi Haifa’s new player, Eliran Atar
Maccabi Haifa continued its January spending spree on Wednesday, agreeing personal terms with Israel national team striker Itay Shechter, a day after wrapping up the signing of Eliran Atar.
The 27-year-old Shechter is expected to arrive in Israel over the weekend to have a medical and complete his move from French club Nantes, which he joined last January.
Shechter is expected to cost Haifa a transfer fee in the region of 350,000 euros and he is set to team-up with Atar to give Haifa arguably the strongest strike force in the league.
Haifa is looking to rebuild after a dismal first half to the season.
The Greens entered the campaign as one of the title favorites, but are currently in 11th place, just four points off the relegation zone. New coach Marco Balbul hasn’t won any of his three Premier League matches with the club since replacing Aleksandar Stanojevic last month.
Haifa’s 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Ra’anana on Sunday was its 10th of the season, the most in the league together with Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Shechter, who scored just three goals in a year at Nantes, won’t be ready to play when Haifa hosts Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday, but Atar will be available.
The 27-year-old was the Premier League’s top scorer in 2012/13 with 22 goals for Maccabi Tel Aviv before signing for French club Reims for a transfer fee estimated at 1.5 million euros. However, he scored just two goals in 22 appearances last season and played a mere 10 minutes at Reims this season back in August.
Atar was also wanted by Beersheba, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem, but ultimately opted to sign for Haifa.
“It is no secret that I had several offers, but I chose Maccabi Haifa and I’m happy I made the decision to come to one of the biggest clubs in Israel, with one of the most beautiful stadiums in Europe and fans that fill it week after week,” he said.
Atar signed a three-and-ahalf year deal and is looking forward to finally seeing some action on the pitch.
“My goal is to go as far as possible with the team,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Haifa also released a player on Wednesday, with defender Matan Ohayon being cut and joining Hapoel Tel Aviv later in the day.
Hapoel is without a manager following the resignation of Eyal Berkovic on Tuesday, but is continuing to strengthen its squad, with Ohayon becoming the team’s fourth signing in January.