Newcastle United scouts will be out in force on Saturday to watch the Israel Russia European qualifying game, on which Englandâ€™s future participation in the tournament depends.
At least two of the players we will be watching in Tel Aviv are Russian captain Andrei Arshavin and Israel centre-back Tal Ben-Haim, although other players in the game may also be targets.
Ben Haim – can Newcastle do a loan deal in January with Chelsea?
Weâ€™ve reported a number of times on Arshavin, who is a versatile attacking midfielder with Zenith St Petersburg, and looks an extremely good and competitive player.
The interest in Ben Haim is not surprising now that Jose Mourinho has famously left the Chelsea club. New Chelsea manager Avram Grant is said to consider the Israeli defender as a squad player rather than as an automatic starter. Ben Haim did come on after 26 minutes in place of the injured Ricardo Carvalho during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Everton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Of course Ben Haim turned down a move to Newcastle in the summer, in favor of what seemed a dubious move to Chelsea.
Sam Allardyce thinks very highly of Ben Haim who played for him at Bolton Wanderers and if he feels a little disenchanted at his Chelsea prospects, donâ€™t by surprised if Sam gets Ben Haim to Newcastle in January, even if itâ€™s an initial loan move. The big advantage with Ben Haim is that heâ€™s had plenty of premiership experience which most of the defenders Sam brought in during the summer do not. Players like Beye, Cacapa, Enrique and Rozehnal are still adjusting to the high physical demands of the Premiership.
It’s also not a given that Avram Grant will be willing to lose the Israeli in the middle of this important season for the London club. But certainly we think one of Sam’s targets will be Ben Haim, either in January, or even in the summer if something can be worked out with Chelsea.