Soccer Stars Sign Big

By Ben Ehrlich

Published July 25, 2007, issue of July 27, 2007.
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Galaxy superstar David Beckham wasn’t the only one to don a new jersey in Los Angeles last Saturday; Israeli defenseman Tal Ben Haim started one of his first games for the opposing club, Chelsea, before being substituted out of the exhibition match at the end of the first half. In one of the highlights of Chelsea’s 1-0 victory, 25-year-old Ben Haim set up teammate Ricardo Carvalho with a beautiful give-and-go for a near goal that rocketed off the outside of the net.

Chelsea, an English Premiership club owned by Russian Jewish oil billionaire Roman Abramovich, acquired Ben Haim from the Bolton Wanderers on June 14 for four years. Ben Haim, whom manager José Mourinho had been trying to land since January, will help the club defend its FA Cup and League Cup championships. He also will try to help Chelsea win the Champion’s League, club soccer’s top prize. Last season, bitter rival Liverpool defeated Chelsea in the semifinals before bowing out to champion A.C. Milan.

Not to be outdone, Liverpool has also signed its own Israeli star. Earlier this month, it acquired 27-year-old midfielder Yossi Benayoun from West Ham United for four years for $10.3 million. The playmaker recorded four goals and three assists last year for West Ham in Premier League play.


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