Sinai Says: Ben Sahar back on track?

Sahar joined Dutch club De Graafschap's on January 2 and scored a spectacular winner against Willem II in his league debut on Saturday.

ben sahar 88 (photo credit: )
ben sahar 88
(photo credit: )
When Ben Sahar made his debut for Chelsea at the age of 17 in January 2007, there seemed to be no limit as to what he could achieve in his bright soccer future. A month later, he became the youngest Israeli to play for the national team (a feat since surpassed by Gai Assulin), and seven weeks afterwards became the youngest to score for the blue-and-white, netting twice in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia. However, in the two years which have passed since he first played for Chelsea, Sahar's career has gone astray. The now 19-year-old, who joined the Blues youth academy from Hapoel Tel Aviv in May 2006 in a deal worth a reported $600,000, ended up only playing a total of 107 minutes in five substitute appearances for Chelsea in the 2006/07 season, and in the last two years his career has been in a constant decline, seemingly due to poor decision making. One thing the striker did make the right call on was agreeing to go out on loan at the start of the 2007/08 season, as it was obvious that he wouldn't be given a chance to prove his worth at Chelsea. Up until this month, however, he kept choosing unsuitable clubs to go to, which has directly resulted in the current disappointing state of his career. Sahar joined League Championship club Queens Park Rangers on a three-month loan at the beginning of the 2007/08 campaign, and that could have well turned out to be the right place for the teenager to develop his skills. However, after the team began to struggle and manager John Gregory, who brought him in, was sacked, Sahar found himself in a difficult situation and failed to find the net in nine appearances during an injury-plagued spell. After returning to Chelsea in January, Sahar went out on loan once more a month later, joining Sheffield Wednesday. Returning to the Championship may have been the correct choice, but Sahar once more joined a club in trouble, desperate to avoid relegation in any way possible and far less concerned with the development of a young player belonging to Chelsea. Nevertheless, Sahar did his best in awkward circumstances, scoring three goals in 12 matches, and helping the club stay in the league on the final day of the season. Quite possibly the worst decision Sahar made, though, was to join FA Cup holder Portsmouth on a six-month loan ahead of this season. Sahar chose to turn down a loan deal from Dutch club NEC Nijmegen, saying he wanted to remain in the Premier League. There was, however, no chance he would be given a real opportunity at Pompey, with such forwards as Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and David Nugent far ahead of him on the pecking order. Unsurprisingly, Sahar never even made a single official appearance for Portsmouth and left the club when the deal expired at the start of this month. Sahar also lost his place on the national team after playing so irregularly during 2008 and faced a crucial decision after parting ways with Portsmouth. His career could well have continued to wane had he chosen wrongly yet again. However, the early signs are that he has finally got it right. Sahar, still under a three-year contract at Chelsea, joined Dutch club De Graafschap's on January 2 and scored a spectacular winner against Willem II in his league debut on Saturday. The Dutch league has always been striker friendly, and if it was good enough for Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo to nurture their skills when they first left their homeland, it is definitely more than good enough for Sahar. By correcting his mistake of not joining Nijmegen, Sahar has got his career back on track and can only profit from his time in the Netherlands. De Graafschap gives him the confidence and attention he needs at this stage of his career and will be an excellent stepping stone. Israeli soccer needs Sahar and it finally seems as though he's once more on course to realize his promise and potential.