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Benayoun is Israel's most expensive player ever

    All change: Benayoun in action for Liverpool against Chelsea last season
    All change: Benayoun in action for Liverpool against Chelsea last season

    Yossi Benayoun has become the most expensive ever Israeli player after moving from Liverpool to Chelsea.

    The £6.5m transfer fee surpasses the £5.75 million that Celtic paid West Ham for Eyal Berkovic in 1999.

    As we reported on June 14, the move was authorised by former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and rubber-stamped by new boss Roy Hodgson.

    Benayoun, 30, will reportedly earn £70,000 a week. He said: "I'm very excited to come to Chelsea. It is a big club and a dream for every player. You can see it is one of the best clubs in the world from the way the people here treat you.

    "There are a lot of good players, big players. For me, it is the beginning and I have to work hard and prove I can bring something to this club."

    There were other offers but he admitted it was a straightforward choice.

    Adored by fans at Anfield, Benayoun said: "I leave a great club at Liverpool and I had a great time there, so I am very grateful to them."

    Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said: "Yossi has a lot of quality in midfield and can play in lots of positions. I like his behaviour on the pitch and he will do a great job for us next season."

    Keeper Petr Cech said: "Yossi is a very intelligent player, very technical, different from other types of players we have. I think he will be very welcome."

    West Bromwich Albion have bid to sign Israeli international keeper Dudu Awat. Mallorca are $80 million in debt and the new owners have declared that all players must take a pay cut. Manager Michael Laudrup says that Awat is very much in his plans but the Israeli could earn more than double at WBA. Awat's agent Ronen Katsav has flown to Spain for talks with Mallorca.

    Barcelona have released Gai Assulin after seven years. His agent Pini Zahavi said: "The decision not to renew Gai's contract was mutual. At the moment we are considering his options."

    Assulin said: "I believe in myself and I'm confident I'll find a good club."

    There was also disappointment for Israeli defender Nir Mantzur, 19, who did not have his contract with Real Madrid extended. But another Israeli, Nes Zamir, 19, has been given a two-year contract by Atletico Madrid after impressing with Spanish third division side Albacete last season. Hapoel Tel Aviv have rejected a €1 million bid from Porto for keeper Vincent Enyeama. Hapoel are holding out for €4 million for the star of Nigeria's World Cup campaign.

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