The Israeli striker has been overlooked by manager Chris Hughton for the last two months — not even featuring on the bench for a Premier League match following the arrival of Jurgen Locadia and Leonardo Ulloa on loan in the transfer window.
Hemed voiced his frustrations during the international break, where he scored in Israel’s 2-1 defeat by Romania. “When I saw that there was one day left until the transfer window closed in January and the strikers had arrived, my agent received an enquiry from Levante and other teams in Spain but I believed I could continue playing with Brighton. I didn’t see things working out the way they did.”
Hemed confirmed he has “spoken with Chris Hughton several times and he’s told me that I’m an important and valued player and, of course, that it is nothing personal”. He added: “On the other hand, there is interest from the Championship, including from Reading who wanted to buy me for £9 million last summer, as well as a number of other teams in England and Spain. I’ve got a very good reputation in these countries. In the Championship, every team with ambitions for promotion wants me.”
Hemed, 30, joined Brighton from Almeria in 2015. He scored 13 goals last season as Brighton won promotion and began his Premier League career well with two goals in the opening weeks.
But he lost his place after a three-match ban and the arrival of Locadia and Ulloa pushed him further down the pecking order.
Meanwhile, Israeli midfielder Bibras Natkho is eagerly anticipating next week’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against Arsenal at the Emirates.
The CSKA Moscow player confidently predicted: “We can beat any team in Europe and I was especially happy when we drew Arsenal because I love playing against English teams.”
Natkho has a strong pedigree in European club football – scoring for CSKA in the Champions League against Manchester City, as well as in Europa League matches against Spurs and Chelsea
He believes the Arsenal match will also give him the opportunity to showcase his credentials ahead of a summer move. “My contract expires at the end of the season and I’ve been offered a new deal. But, at 30, I want to challenge myself in England, Spain or Italy,” commented Natkho.
Natkho rose through the ranks at Hapoel Tel Aviv before joining Kazan in 2010. A member of Israel’s tiny Circassian Muslim minority, he captained Israel in the defeat against Romania. He described being the national skipper as “a high-point of my career”.