Tamir Cohen to join Bolton in January

Maccabi Netanya midfielder set to become third Israeli playing in the English Premier League in January.

tamir cohen 224 88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
tamir cohen 224 88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The Israeli invasion of English soccer is set to continue in January when Maccabi Netanya's Tamir Cohen joins Bolton Wanderers. Although the deal cannot be officially finalized until January 1, the 23-year-old said Saturday that he agreed to personal terms with the English Premier League club over the weekend. Cohen will sign a three-and-a-half-year contract at Bolton and will be the third Israeli to play for the club, following in the footsteps of Tal Ben-Haim and Idan Tal. He joins Ben-Haim, who now plays for Chelsea under Israeli manager Avraham Grant, and Liverpool's Yossi Benayoun in the English top flight. Bolton will pay an estimated $75,000 for the transfer, meeting the 23-year-old's buy-out clause at Maccabi Netanya. "My dream has come true," Cohen said on Saturday. "I'm taking another step forward in my career. I expect to continue my progress and justify the faith shown in me by manager Gary Megson." Megson took over as Bolton manager from Sammy Lee in October. Lee had only been appointed in the summer following the departure of "Big" Sam Allardyce to Newcastle, but his record of one win in 11 matches was enough to force the sack. Bolton has improved since Megson's arrival and is now in 14th place in the Premier League standings following an impressive 3-0 win over Birmingham City on Saturday. The club is also still in Europe, having qualified for the last 32 of the UEFA Cup where it will play Spanish side Atletico Madrid over two legs in the middle of February. Cohen began his career at Maccabi Tel Aviv, making his debut for the club in 2002. After an encouraging start at the yellow-and-blue Cohen was benched by Tel Aviv coach Eli Cohen at the start of the 2006/07 season and left the club for Netanya in January. The defensive midfielder resurrected his career under Reuven Atar and has become a regular starter in the Israel national team in recent months. "We're proud Netanya has become a bridge to Europe," Maccabi owner Daniel Jammer said on Saturday. "This is a good sign for the club and I'm sure more players will follow in his path." Another player who will be leaving for Europe in January is Maccabi Petah Tikva's Omer Golan. The striker will move to Belgian side Sporting Lokeren for a reported $2,000,000 after completing a medical examination at the club last week.