Casspi, riding the bench, seeks trade from Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player in the National Basketball Association, has requested a trade, sources around the league say. Casspi, 24, has been riding the bench with the Cavs since missing five games with a stomach ailment. In 19 games he is averaging 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds. Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant is thus seeking a deal to offload the Israeli; the request was made via Casspi's people at Creative Arts Agency, sources say. Cleveland officials say no such request has been made, but league sources familiar with the situation say Creative Arts Agency has indeed gotten the ball rolling. Under NBA rules, neither an agent nor a player can make a trade request public without suffering a fine. After starting more than 90 games in the league, Casspi has played one minute for the Cavs since December 11. Casspi, who was born in Holon and grew up in Yavneh, is averaging 8.4 points over four years in the NBA, two with the Sacramento Kings. He was the 23rd pick in the NBA's 2009 draft - a first-round choice. (Haaretz Sports Staff)

Defender Rami Gershon signs for Celtic on loan

Israeli soccer player Rami Gershon has signed for Celtic on loan until the end of the season, his agent Dudu Dahan told Scottish Television's website yesterday. The Scottish Premier League side has the option to buy the player at the end of his temporary spell, with a three-year contract having been agreed should it exercise that option. The defender traveled to Scotland last week ahead of a switch from Belgian side Standard Liege. He underwent a medical at the weekend. Gershon needs a work permit to conclude his move and will soon travel to Brussels to switch his visa, before linking up with Neil Lennon's side at training camp in Spain next week. "I'm very happy to get a club of this size and I'm primed and ready for the challenge," Gershon said on his agent's Facebook page. (Haaretz Sports Staff)

Messi wins Ballon d'Or for fourth time

Argentina's Lionel Messi, still only 25, won the World Player of the Year award for an unprecedented fourth year running yesterday. The award came after a year in which the Barcelona player scored a record-breaking 91 goals for club and country. Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo was second in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or award and Messi's Barcelona team mate Andres Iniesta was third. Messi was voted FIFA Player of the Year in 2009 before picking up the new-look award in 2010 and 2011 after it was fused with the Ballon d'Or award previously handed out by France Football magazine. Brazilian Ronaldo and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane both won the old FIFA award three times, although neither did so in successive years, while Michel Platini won the France Football award three times successively in the 1980s. (Reuters )

Soccer

In Premier League action last night, table-topping Maccabi Tel Aviv and last season's champion Hapoel Kiryat Shmona played out a goalless draw that was even wetter than the weather. Maccabi missed a chance to open up a four-point lead over local rival Hapoel Tel Aviv, while a win would have lifted Kiryat Shmona into third place. (Haaretz Sports Staff )