Hatem Elhamed will this week complete an £800,000 move back to Israel after Hapoel Be’er Sheva agreed a half price fee of £800,000 with Celtic for the homesick Israeli International defender.
Elhamed has failed to settle in Scotland with his wife returning home with their toddler earlier this year after being refused a work permit for the UK. The player has spoken about how difficult life has been for him in lockdown Scotland and he also picked up Covid-19 while ion international duty.
His performances this season have been poor – certainly much worse than when he first arrived in Scotland – and it has been agreed by all parties that the player should be allowed to return home for family reasons. Which is fair enough.
Celtic paid £1.6m for the defender in July 2016 and four Israeli clubs were all eager to sign him when it became clear that he wanted to return home. Hapeol Be’er Sheva, Maccabi Haifa, Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv were all keen to sign the 29 year old who can play at right back or as a central defender but it’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva who have been successful in reaching an agreement with their former player and agreeing the half-price fee of £800,000 with Celtic.
Their manager Yossi Abukasis is clearly pleased to have got his man ahead of his rivals.
“We are very happy that Hatem has chosen to return here. For me, he is a great guy and we think we have signed the best defender in Israel, so we are looking forward to him playing for us again,” Abukasis said, as reported by Scottish Sun.
And Neil Lennon, commenting on the move yesterday at Celtic Park, where the Hoops beat Motherwell 2-1, reckoned that the move was important for the player for personal reasons.
“He was going through a really difficult time, his wife and son were back in Israel and he was here on his own. He was really struggling with life away from the training ground and stadium.
“We have to take into consideration the human factor on that. I wouldn’t say he was suffering with depression, but he was very low, so we have made the right decision for him and the club.
“I think their transfer window is open, so there are no issues with that.”
Best of luck to Hatem and his family.