Yaniv Katan signs with West Ham

Move makes him the third Israeli currently playing in arguably the best soccer league in the world.

yaniv katan 88 (photo credit: )
yaniv katan 88
(photo credit: )
Yossi Benayoun is no longer alone. Maccabi Haifa forward Yaniv Katan on Monday completed a transfer to the English Premier League's West Ham, which makes him the third Israeli currently playing in arguably the best soccer league in the world. Benayoun joined the Hammers last summer, and Tal Ben-Haim plays for Bolton. The transfer was delayed when Haifa chairman Ya'acov Shachar demanded an astronomical $1 million transfer fee for Katan, who would have been available next summer on a free transfer. After West Ham appeared ready to wait, it is believed that Shachar reduced his asking price or was given other financial incentives to release the player. Katan and his agent, Pini Zahavi, met with West Ham general director Paul Aldridge in Tel Aviv on Monday and agreed to a three-and-a-half-year contract. The talented forward is expected to make around $600,000 per season and will fly to London later this week to undergo a medical evaluation. "It's a happy day, but I am also sad to be leaving Maccabi Haifa, where I played so many years," the player told reporters. "The crowd's love has made it difficult to leave. I hope Haifa wins the championship this year." Maccabi Haifa's unbeaten record this season can be partially attributed to Katan, who has scored five goals and assisted on four others in the club's 14 games. The player also has made 20 appearances for the national team and scored four goals. "The chance to sign a player of his quality was a great opportunity for West Ham and one that we could not miss," West Ham manager Alan Pardew said. "His signing represents a good deal for the club." Bnei Sakhnin 2,Maccabi Petah Tikva 1 Lufa Kadosh's Bnei Sakhnin beat Maccabi Petah Tikva in dramatic fashion, taking another step in the right direction and worsening the visitors' position in the Premier League standings. The hosts took an early lead when Ahmed Kasum took full advantage of a mix up in the "Luzons" defense and tapped the ball into the back of the net in the second minute. Petah Tikva's Omer Golan has drawn interest from European teams with his performances in the UEFA Cup this year. With scouts from the English Premier League's Sheffield United in attendance on Monday, the forward once again impressed in the 61st minute. Golan took control of Salim Tuamah's cross, dribbled past Salah Hasarmah and elegantly rolled the ball past goalkeeper Meir Cohen to level the score. Just when it looked like the match would finish a 1-1 draw, Sakhnin delivered the final blow in added time. Substitute Adrian Pito lofted a cross from the right flank, which was met by Hasarmah, who headed in the winner from close range. Bnei Sakhnin is now just one point behind Maccabi Petah Tikva, which is in tenth place and in danger of dropping into the relegation zone.