Report: Rafael Benitez wants to bring Israeli international forward Eran Zahavi to Newcastle

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Eran Zahavi during training

The Maccabi Haifa striker scored 48 goals in 55 appearances last season, including eight in the Champions League.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Eran Zahavi during training

Rafael Benitez may have earmarked one of his primary transfer targets for Newcastle United this summer, with the Sun reporting that the Spanish manager wants to bring Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Eran Zahavi to St. James' Park.

Though not a household name due to his lack of playing time in a major European league, Zahavi's record in front of goal over the last three years is nothing short of phenomenal.

The Israel international has scored 117 goals in just 150 matches over the last three years for Maccabi, and whilst that record may be mitigated by the fact he has been playing in a relatively weak league, he also netted eight in just 11 Champions League matches.

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Zahavi is not a typical centre-forward, generally playing behind the frontman as an attacking midfielder rather than an out-and-out striker, something which makes his scoring record even more remarkable.

According to the Sun, the 28-year-old is at the top of the list of attacking targets for Rafael Benitez, and though his current club would demand a significant fee, he is still surely likely be a relatively inexpensive option when compared with most signings from Europe.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

One question mark over a potential deal may be that Zahavi only has 18 months experience in a major league, a spell with Serie A side Palermo in which he scored just twice in 23 appearances.

However, his goalscoring pedigree cannot be doubted, and it is perhaps surprising that he has not attracted more serious interest over the last few years.

It is unknown whether the Maccabi captain would be open to a move to England, but if Newcastle can tempt him to come to the Championship they may find that they have unearthed a hidden gem.

 Maccabi Tel Aviv's Eran Zahavi during training

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