Top 10 Young Israeli Players (Under – 22)
In the past 40 years the Israel National Football team has been in the proverbial wilderness looking to make the finals of a major football tournament. In the next decade that may change due to an upcoming crop of young talent.
10. Maor Buzaglo- Winger/Second Striker/Attacking Midfielder (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
While Buzaglo certainly had good years with Bnei Sakhnin and Maccabi Tel Aviv scoring 18 league goals in two seasons, he had been sidelined until recently by a potentially career ending injury. It will take some time to see if he can regain the form that had him linked to clubs in England. Maor is a technically gifted player and was probably the most promising young Israeli player before he was injured. He has good speed on and off the ball and can score from set pieces. He has a good goal scoring rate for a midfielder but can sometimes be too selfish with the ball and sometimes makes poor decisions passing the ball.
9. Biram Kiyal – Central Midfielder/Defensive Midfielder (Maccabi Haifa)
At the age of 20 Biram made his first start for the National Team in midfield. The highly touted Maccabi Haifa youth product has held a place in the team on and off since then. Recently though it seems that Kiyal has hit a plateau in his development as a player. He struggled in the Champions League against more experienced midfielders, and it will be a few more years to see if he has reached his potential or not. Biram is a very technical player with good positioning on the field. He has a strong shot and is not afraid to shoot from distance. He has decent speed but he is not exceptionally fast. He is an average passer of the ball but still needs to work on his one touch passing and his first touch. His tackling has been hit or miss resulting in a red card during the Champions League.
8. Din Mori – Central Defender (Bnei Yehuda)
Mori has come from nowhere along with his team Bnei Yehuda, to help lead them to a high finish in Ligat Ha’al last season. Mori has steadily progressed and is a physical defender. He is good in the air and has good positioning. He lacks speed but has been steadily improving in that area as well. Mori has been called up to the National Team but has not started.
7. Muhammad Ghadir – Winger/ Second Striker (Maccabi Haifa)
Ghadir is possibly the most physically talented of any of these players but also the most tempermental. His talent has been noticed by several European clubs and it could be possible that he will leave his parent club Maccabi Haifa in the summer. Ghadir is extremely fast and even though he is only 1.7 meters he is good in the air as well. Ghadir has been improving although at times he disappears from games. He has a heavy first touch and tends to overrun the ball as well. Ghadir with the right training and development has all the physical tools to be a game changer.
6. Ariel Harush – Goal Keeper (Beitar Yerushalyim)
Harush has been one of the revelations this season for Beitar Jerusalem and Ligat Ha’al. Harush has made several outstanding saves and his been tipped to be the next keeper for the National Team. Harush has great reflexes and has already saved a penalty this season. He is currently the Keeper for the U-21 team. Don’t be surprised if he winds up in Europe.
5. Itay Shechter – Striker/Winger ( Hapoel Tel-Aviv)
Many people have been waiting for Shechter to have a break out season and halfway through this season he already has 13 league goals. Shechter spent several seasons at Maccabi Netanya where his form was inconsistent. Under the watchful eye of Eli Gutman, Shechter has matured and delivered the goods for Hapoel. Shechter has good pace and is excellent at finishing around the goal. During Hapoel Tel Aviv’s current Europa League run Shechter has given his opponents fits and scored three times already. Shechter is also a threat in the air despite being 1.78 meters. Shechter sometimes disappears from games and is more effective when he runs at players with the ball at his feet. Shechter has already made a few substitute appearances for the National Team. Expect him to be starting in Israel’s next friendly.
4. Eyal Golasa – Attacking Midfielder (Maccabi Haifa)
Although Eyal Golasa isn’t a physically imposing player his composure on the ball is what makes him such an asset to Maccabi Haifa. Golasa is a product of Beitar Nes Tubruk and was bought by Maccabi Haifa. Golasa started several games last year and has developed into a playmaker for Maccabi Haifa. Golasa rarely makes a mistake with the ball and is good with the ball at his feet. He has already scored 5 league goals even though he missed several games to injury this season. Golasa wears the same number as Yossi Benayoun but has a somewhat differnet style of play. Golasa’s main strength is his technical ability and football IQ ,although he has good speed and his passing has improved greatly. If Golasa leaves it will be for a very big club. Golasa had been called up to the National Team but was unavailable due to injury.
3. Bibras Natcho – Central Midfielder ( Hapoel Tel-Aviv)
Constantly under the radar, Bibras Natcho may already be the best passer available to Israel’s National Team. Natcho has been a starter at Hapoel for the past few seasons but has not gotten the recognition he deserves. He models himself after the Spanish playmaker Xavi. Natcho has a great range of passing and has been the maestro behind Hapoel’s run in the Europa League this season. Natcho takes corners for his team and has a good free kick. He is not physically imposing but has good speed. His first touch rarely lets him down and his vision to spot runs of other players is outstanding. Bibras was called up for a friendly against Northern Ireland but did not play. He should be a lock for Israel’s next friendly.
2. Ben Sahar – Striker/Winger (Espanyol)
Sahar has been the golden boy of Israeli football for several years now but has only shown flashes of his talent for club and country. Sahar is extremely fast and finishes well and is equally adept with both feet. Sahar showed his potential last year when he was loaned out to De Graafschap, but instead of moving to a bigger club in Holland he chose a move to Spain and Espanyol. Sahar doesn’t seem to have progressed much as he still makes the same mistakes he made a few years ago. Sahar has only been able to get limited minutes at Espanyol and I wouldn’t be surprised to seem him come back to Israel next summer on loan or transfer to Hapoel Tel-Aviv or Maccabi Haifa.
1. Gai Assulin – Winger/Attacking Midfielder (Barcelona)
Gai Assulin plays for the best club in the world. Despite only a few appearances with the Barca’s senior team, Assulin would probably be with the senior team at any other club in the world right now. His overall speed, ball control, awareness, technical ability, and the experience gained from practicing with the best players in the world; makes Assulin Israel’s best young player right now. In his one appearance for the National Team, Assulin showed flashes of his potential. At the u-21 level, his play has been so outstanding that he recieved applause from the opposing crowd when he left the field. I think the coach of Israel’s National Team has been right not to call Assulin up to early. Assulin’s only downside is that he has been somewhat prone to injury and isn’t a very big player. Gai Assulin’s contract expires in the summer. It will be very interesting to see where he winds up. Gai will most definitely feature in Israel’s next European campaign.