Chelsea Loans Israeli Golden Boy Ben Sahar to Portsmouth

Ben Sahar, the 19-year-old Israeli striker signed to Chelsea, has been transferred on loan to Portsmouth, it was announced yesterday.

Portsmouth, current holders of England's FA Cup, was in 2004-05 the home of Israeli star Eyal Berkovic. It is also owned by Sacha Gaydamak, son of Russian-Israeli tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak.

Sahar's mother, Batya, said, "I'm very happy that Ben is going to Portsmouth, it is a great team. I hope he will prove himself and will get many minutes. Ben is very happy about the move.

"This afternoon he sat with his agent, Pini Zehavi, and despite our indecision toward the offer from Nijmegen, eventually we decided that Ben would play at Portsmouth and we're all happy about that."

Sahar was considering leaving the English Premier League for Dutch side Nijmegen due to his dissatisfaction with the number of minutes he was getting on the pitch.

The young footballer is expected to meet with Portsmouth coach Harry Randolph in the coming days.

Sahar's decision to leave Chelsea was widely attributed to his concern that with the arrival of the team's new coach, Brazilian Luis Felipe Scolari, in place of Avram Grant, the striker would have to prove his ability all over again.

Sahar is still signed to Chelsea and his contract obligates him to return to the club after the upcoming season, but a successful run at Portsmouth could alter his prospects.

The Holon native began his career in Hapoel Tel Aviv's youth division before moving to Chelsea's youth program. He later logged several appearances on the team's Premier League roster before being put on loan to Queen's Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday of Britain's second-tier league.

Sahar is one of the brightest young stars ever produced by Israel's youth soccer system. At 16, he was the equivalent of a second-year apprentice at Chelsea.

He first caught Chelsea's eye in an Under-16 match against Ireland in 2004, and has since played for the Under-21 national team and the Israeli national team.

Before coming to Chelsea, he obtained Polish citizenship (his mother Batya is of Polish origin), granting him an automatic right to play in Great Britain, as Poland is an EU member state.