State Cup champion and Premier League runner-up Hapoel Tel Aviv will look vastly different next season, as some of the team's most recognizable names are rapidly finding new homes across the European continent.
Just days after forward Itay Shechter agreed to terms with Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern, it was teammate Gil Vermouth's turn to strike a deal with the same club.
Shechter and Vermouth joined their agents, Ronen and Gilad Katsav, on a flight to Germany on Friday. Both players agreed to four-year deals that will pay them 600,000 euros per season.
The sale of both players will net Hapoel Tel Aviv 3.3 million euros - 2.5 million for Shechter, and 750,000 for Vermouth. Maccabi Netanya, which sold Shechter to Hapoel, and Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which received a percentage of any future sale of Shechter as part of Hapoel's purchase of Alroey Cohen, will each receive 400,000 euros.
This week Hapoel co-owners Moni Harel and Eli Tabib are expected to give final approval for the deals. They are also likely to sign off on Eran Zahavi's sale to Italian Serie A side Palermo.
"I had a chance to leave Hapoel a year ago," said the 25-year-old Vermouth. "I owed myself another shot at Europe [by playing in the Champions League]. Hapoel will have to rebuild, but I don't worry about them."
Shechter, 24, is looking forward to suiting up for his new club.
"My heart wanted to be in Kaiserslautern," he said. "Having Gili join the team will make both our lives easier. This is a dream come true for both of us."
Russian soccer club Volga Nizhny Novgorod officially announced on Friday that it had signed Hapoel Tel Aviv defender Dani Bondar to a three-year contract that will pay him 450,000 euros per season.
The 24-year-old Israeli will be permitted to begin his stint in Russia beginning on August 1, the day the summer transfer window comes into effect.
In an interview with the team's official website, Bondar said that he chose Volga out of at least four other offers from Russian teams. The defender said he was impressed with Volga's seriousness and professionalism.
"Hapoel Tel Aviv may be higher in quality and status, but the Russian league is much better than the Israeli league," Bondar said. "Here I'll be able to face a number of stronger teams. In Israel, we have Hapoel and one other team [Maccabi Haifa]."
Bondar said that before signing on the dotted line, he consulted with former Hapoel teammate Bibras Natkho, who last year departed Tel Aviv for Russian club Rubin Kazan.
Volga management will work to arrange a Russian passport for Bondar, who was born in Moscow.
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