Premier League-linked Eran Zahavi can deepen Chelsea blues

Champions league cup

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Eran Zahavi has been linked with a number of clubs over the past 12 months and has been in scintillating form.

Maccabi Tel Aviv head into a Champions League clash with Chelsea as major outsiders for victory, but in Eran Zahavi they have a player with a habit of turning up on the big occasion.

Linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur last season, according to Eurosport, the 28-year-old Israel international is in the form of his life.

But this is no flash in the pan either – Zahavi is simply too good for the Israeli top-flight if his statistics are to be believed.

In the 2013/14 campaign, he scored a sensational 29 goals in 34 appearances for Maccabi Tel Aviv to set tongues wagging.

He couldn’t match that return in the 2014/15 but he came pretty close to it, with 28 goals in 34 games.

The goals have continued to flow this term, with a return of three from three games so far.

And yet, no big move has been forthcoming, though there is some explanation behind that.

Once a youngster on the books of Hapoel Tel Aviv, Zahavi headed to Italy in 2011, signing with Sicilian club Palermo.

It proved to be an unhappy spell for the midfielder, who made 23 stop-start appearances for the Rosanero, mostly as a sub.

Returning to Israel with his tail between his legs, Zahavi has gone about rebuilding his career in sensational style.

It’s not simply a case of scoring domestically either, with the 28-year-old showing his talent for goals of all shapes and sizes in the Champions League.

In the second qualifying round against Maltese outfit Hibernians, he netted a brace in the home leg to help the Tel Aviv side advance.

He was at it again in the next round with a pivotal late brace against Viktoria Plzen that helped to turn a 1-2 first-leg deficit into a 3-2 win for the Israeli outsiders.

His best was to come against Basel – a team that once proved problematic to Chelsea – with Zahavi netting crucial equalisers in both legs as part of a three-goal haul that helped Maccabi defy the odds.

Speaking to Marca, Maccabi club director Jordi Cruyff has already tipped Zahavi for great things:

“Yes. [Zahavi] could compete well in Spain because he is ambitious and has a strong idea of team, quality, completion, ambition, personality and mentality.”

Capable of the spectacular goals and good in the air, Zahavi has scored an incredible 12 goals over his last 12 games for both club and country.

More importantly, with Chelsea in defensive disarray, the midfielder may be about to make his most significant contribution yet.

The Blues have shipped 12 goals in five games already this term, while stand-in goalkeeper Asmir Begovic will have bad memories of his last encounter with Zahavi.

A goalscorer for Israel in their Euro 2016 qualifying match with Bosnia and Herzegovina last November, the 28-year-old got the better of him on that occasion – what odds on a repeat here?

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