Idan Tal signs with Bolton [pg. 12]

With Idan Tal producing the best soccer of his career so far for a Maccabi Haifa club that is enjoying one of its most successful domestic seasons to date, it is no surprise that the experienced midfielder attracted the attention from an English Premier League team. Bolton Wanderers successfully negotiated a three-year deal with Tal, who will leave Haifa after his contract runs out this summer and becomes a free agent. The dynamic player is expected to make around $600,000 per season with the English outfit. Bolton also is the professional home to Israeli international and former Maccabi Tel Aviv star Tal Ben-Haim, who has already built a solid reputation in the Premiership. The club is currently in seventh place and is fighting for a fourth-place spot, which would ensure a spot in next season's Champions League. This will be Tal's second stint in the English Premier League, after he played for Everton four seasons ago, when he primarily served as a reserve. The quick and energetic midfielder also had a short stint at Rayo Vallecano after leaving the Toffees. Idan Tal started his career with Hapoel Jerusalem, but it was at Maccabi Petah Tikva where he was able to burst into the spotlight and display his skills. The player also has played for Spanish side Merida, where he registered 38 appearances and scored five goals. Tal is expected to return to Israel on Wednesday and rejoin the Maccabi Haifa camp, in order to guide the greens to a third straight league championship and a possible clash with Bolton in next season's European competition. The team is expected to look for a replacement for Tal immediately, with Hapoel Petah Tikva's Yossi Shivkhon being mentioned as the leading candidate for the job. In other news involving a Premier League star, Betar Jerusalem forward Omri Afek has received a lucrative offer from a leading team in the top Japanese league, but the club's management has surprisingly refused to allow a move. The disturbed forward, who has not played in the team's last three league matches, has not enjoyed the best relationship with manager Luis Fernandez and is expected to leave the club at the end of the season.