Israeli international defender Hatem Abd Elhamed has signed a four-year deal with Celtic, joining the Scottish champions from Hapoel Be’er Sheva in his homeland.
The 28-year-old, who can play at both centre-back and right-back, is believed to have been signed for a fee of £1.6m after clearance for a work permit was obtained by the Glasgow club.
Third spell abroad
Abd Elhamed’s decision to sign for Celtic will mean a third foray abroad for the versatile defender, following brief spells at Charleroi and Gent in Belgium and Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. After establishing himself as a regular for Hapoel in Ligat HaAl for the past two seasons, Abd Elhamed made his debut for Israel in June of this year, coming on as a late substitute against Poland for new Celtic teammate Nir Bitton.
Indeed, Celtic manager Neil Lennon revealed that he sought the opinion of Bitton and former Celtic Israeli star Beram Kyal before making a move for the player.
'An absolute honour'
Speaking to Celtic’s website, the defender described the move as "an absolute honour,” stating he was proud to join "one of the world's truly great football clubs”. Lennon added that Abd Elhamed was “a player with real attributes, he is strong and quick and I have been impressed with what I have seen of him.”
The defender - who will not be eligible for tonight’s Champions League Second Qualifying round tie against Nomme Kalju from Estonia - may not represent the last piece of defensive transfer business for Celtic this summer. With the departure of Michael Lustig and the collapse of the proposed move for former Leicester City right-back Danny Simpson, Lennon moved to reassure Hoops fans that the Celtic Park club were in negotiations with another as yet un-named defensive player.
While it is as yet unknown if Abd Elhamed has been signed primarily as a right-back or centre-back, the flurry of recent transfer activity is positive news for the Glasgow club, who have been making headlines thus far this summer primarily in connection with the ongoing saga of Kieran Tierney’s on-off move to Arsenal.