Hapoel players on show in Champions League

By Simon Griver, December 2, 2010
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Scouts from Europe's top leagues will be in France on Tuesday night for Hapoel Tel Aviv's final Champions League group match against Lyon.

After beating Benfica 3-0 last week, the Israeli champions can still finish third in their group and qualify for the Europa League knockout stage, if they cause an upset while the Portuguese champions must lose against Schalke.

But even if Hapoel progress, a mass exodus is expected when the transfer window opens in January with six players set to leave.

Itay Shechter is still attracting the most attention. Villareal are now the front-runners to sign the Israeli striker and there has also been interest from Chievo and Nurnberg, as well as a long list of Premier League clubs including Everton, Spurs and West Ham. Shechter missed Israel's friendly with Iceland last month due to injury and has only played in 53 per cent of Israel's internationals over the past two years, well short of the 75 per cent needed for a UK work permit.

Even without these problems, Villareal, who lie third in La Liga, appears the most attractive proposition.

Agent Pini Zahavi is looking for a Premier League club for Nigerian international goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who attracted interest from Porto last summer, while Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is eager to bring midfielder Gil Vermouth to Portugal.

Defenders Dani Bondarv and Omri Kende have been linked to clubs in Russia and Belgium while Brazilian defender Douglas Da Silva is sought by Getafe.

Hapoel manager Eli Guttman is dismayed by the possibility of losing half his team. Guttman said: "If we don't sell anybody them we won't need to bring in new players and will be strongly positioned for back-to-back titles."

However, on Sunday night Hapoel blew their chance to go top of Ligat Ha'Al for the first time this season losing 0-2 at home to John Gregory's MS Ashdod.

Guttman said: "I have a suspicion that we were a bit arrogant because we beat Benfica."

    Last updated: 3:50pm, December 2 2010