Out-of-favour Manchester City defender Tal Ben Haim looks set to be offloaded during the transfer window despite the claims of his agent who insists that he has no plans to leave.
Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle, Bolton and Spurs have all been linked with the Israeli but Pini Zahavi says: “It is not a burning matter. Tal has no worries and he is very happy at City where he has a contract with the club.”
Things look bleak for Ben Haim after he was pushed further down the pecking order following the arrival of Wayne Bridge from Chelsea. Ben Haim, 26, was left out of the squad for the FA Cup defeat by Nottingham Forest so as not to compromise his transfer value by having him cup-tied.
Moreover, reports have claimed that Ben Haim is one of the ringleaders of a dressing room revolt against City boss Mark Hughes.
Blackburn appears the most likely destination with Ben Haim being used as a makeweight in a cash-plus-player exchange for striker Roque Santa Cruz. If the move comes off, Ben Haim will be reunited with Sam Allardyce, the manager who bought him to Bolton from Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004 and developed him into one of the Premier League’s best central defenders before he moved on to Chelsea in 2007.
New Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia, who was a senior coach at the Reebok when Ben Haim was at Bolton, is eager to bring the Israeli to Wearside, while both Newcastle and Bolton have made inquiries. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who tried to sign Ben Haim last summer when he was at Portsmouth, may also attempt to bring him back to London.
Ben Haim is believed to be earning more than £50,000-a-week at City, so
Zahavi may bide his time during January so that he can get the best deal for his man.
l Celtic target Elyaniv Barda has signed a contract extension at Racing Genk until 2013.