Soccer: Ben-Haim tries again with Portsmouth

Israel center back leaves Manchester City for his 5th English Premier League side.

Ben-Haim 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Ben-Haim 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
It has been five long years since Tal Ben-Haim made his first significant move, from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Bolton Wanderers of the English Premier League. The wide-eyed 22-year-old found favor with Bolton manager Sam Allardyce, cemented his place in the starting 11, and made a name for himself as a no compromise center back. But since then there have been plenty of ups and downs. On Tuesday Ben-Haim, now a far more experienced 27-year-old, was officially announced as a Portsmouth player, signing a four-year deal at the club. The Israel national team defender will be playing in his fifth English Premier League team after completing the move from Manchester City. Ben-Haim struggled to hold down a regular place over three different clubs in the last couple of campaigns, making a combined 22 league appearances at Chelsea, Man City and on-loan at Sunderland. He is now hoping to make a new start and prove the critics wrong at a club which has lost ever one of its first four games of the Premier League season. "I'm very happy to be here at Pompey. It is a big challenge because after four games we have no points but I'm ready for the challenge," Ben-Haim told his new club's official website. "I want to help Pompey get some good results and take them to the position they belong." Portsmouth has only scored a solitary goal since the season kicked off, and manager Paul Hart was noticeably active on Tuesday's last day for transfers, bringing in Benfica midfielder Hassan Yebda and defender Mike Williamson, as well as Ben-Haim. "We've brought a few players in now and I believe that we can turn things around and win some games," Ben-Haim said. "I've watched a few of the games and we've been unlucky to get beaten in all of them. That's why I'm confident we can improve quickly. "I've come here to give 100 per cent in each game and no less. I'm sure that's the same for all the lads. "I'm sure that every player who goes on the pitch will play with his heart which is the most important thing for the fans." Ben-Haim joined up with the Israel squad on Tuesday for its second day of training ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Latvia. Meanwhile, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv also made additions to their squads in the final day of the European transfer window. Haifa acquired 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder Tiago Dutra from Spanish club Villareal on a season-long loan deal. Dutra, who arrived at Villareal from Brazil's Gremio, is a defensive midfielder and his excellent tackling skills and technical capabilities make him a dangerous player on both ends of the field. The young midfielder, who had a falling out with Villareal after leaving for his homeland without receiving permission from the club, played for Brazil in the Under-17 World Cup in 2007 and is currently a member of the Under-19 national team. Dutra is the third player Haifa has signed since advancing to the Champions League group stage last week, joining defender Ali Ottman and striker Eial Strahman. While the Greens needed to bolster their squad for the Champions League, Hapoel has added a player to give itself more options ahead of the Europa League group stage. Serbian midfielder Nemanja Vucicevic signed a one-year contract with Hapoel, joining from German club FC Koln. The 30-year-old first played in the Bundesliga in 2004, making 41 appearances in three seasons at 1860 Munich before joining Koln, at which he played 53 matches. "I'm very proud because this is a big team and an opportunity to compete for a championship and achieve good things in Europe," Vucicevic said. "Even though I've only known coach Eli Gutman for two hours he has made an unbelievable impression and I'm very happy and motivated to give my best to this team." Also Tuesday, Barak Itzhaki announced that he will remain at Betar Jerusalem, turning down an offer from Dutch club ADO Den Haag. "I've made a decision to remain at Betar because I'm committed to this club," said Itzhaki, who both he and Aviram Bruchian were expected to leave Jerusalem in the summer, but will now remain at the club at least until the January transfer window. "I have a dream of playing in Spain one day and I hope it comes true. Betar is my home and I'm proud to play here."