Why Celtic shouldn’t hesitate to part ways with Hatem Abd Elhamed

According to The Scottish Sun, Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed could be set for a shock exit from Parkhead in the January transfer window after struggling to adapt to life in Glasgow.

The Israeli international has been living alone at the Scottish capital ever since his move away from Hapoel Be’er Sheva in 2019. The Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland haven’t made life any easier for him and he has discussed his personal issues with the Hoops’ chiefs. (h/t The Scottish Sun)

As per the report, Elhamed’s former clubs Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Maccabi Tel Aviv are prepared to offer him a route back to Israel in January. 

Profile

Hatem Abd Elhamed started his professional career with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and had a brief loan spell at Sporting Charleroi in Belgium before rising to prominence with Ashdod in his homeland.

Having made over 100 appearances for Ashdod over three seasons, Elhamed was loaned out to Romanian club Dinamo Bucharesti, where he featured as a regular starter.

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Scotland’s defender Stephen O’Donnell (L) vies with Israel’s defender Hatem Abd Elhamed (R) during the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final football match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park, Glasgow on October 8, 2020. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The 29-year-old joined Gent in Belgium but returned on loan to Ashdod after struggling for game time. He signed a 5-year deal with Hapoel Be’er Sheva in 2017 and eventually completed a move to Celtic in the summer of 2019 after making 61 appearances for the club. However, Elhamed hasn’t really made the kind of impact at Parkhead as many would have expected.

The 10-cap Israeli international managed just 15 appearances in all competitions in the previous campaign, largely playing second-fiddle to youngster Jeremie Frimpong at right-back. Elhamed has made 7 league appearances for Celtic this season so far, with the contraction of Covid-19 in October somewhat restricting his game time. 

Celtic should look to replace Elhamed at the earliest

Celtic made a promising start to the 2020-21 campaign but a sudden dip in form over the past couple of months has seen things fall apart for Neil Lennon’s side. The Hoops have managed just 4 wins from their last 14 games in all competitions, including shock exits from the group stages of the Europa League as well as the Betfred Cup. 

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Israel’s defender Hatem Abd Elhamed (R) gestures to the referee during the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final football match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park, Glasgow on October 8, 2020. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The fact that Celtic have shipped as many as 30 goals over that period clearly underlines the club’s defensive struggles.

The likes of Shane Duffy and Kristoffer Ajer have come under constant scrutiny for their blunders at the back while Christopher Jullien is yet to hit top gear after recovering from a back injury. Utility man Nir Bitton, who has so often emerged as the savior for the Hoops over the past few years, has also struggled for form and fitness.

Taking the current situation into account, losing an experienced head like Hatem Abd Elhamed in January wouldn’t be wise. Elhamed offers a lot with his versatility to play at right-back and centre-back but the Hoops should understand that there’s little sense in keeping a player who is unsettled at the club.

The 29-year-old’s off-field issues with life in Scotland has presumably had a negative impact on his performances on the pitch. Elhamed was tipped to be a massive bargain for Celtic when he joined the club last summer but has managed only 29 appearances in all competitions so far.

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Israel’s defender Hatem Abd Elhamed (L) and Czech Republic’s midfielder Jan Kopic vie for the ball during the UEFA Nations League football match Czech Republic v Israel in Plzen on November 15, 2020. (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Hoops roped him in as a replacement for the long-serving Mikael Lustig but Elhamed has fared way below expectations in that regard.

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Verdict

Suffice to say, Celtic need to plan a defensive reshuffle to get their campaign back on track and moving on an underachiever like Hatem Abd Elhamed in January would free up space for new arrivals.

The Israeli star isn’t pulling up any trees at Parkhead and while his versatility will certainly be missed, cashing in on the 29-year-old in January would certainly make a lot of sense for the Hoops.

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