Hammers snap up Israel international striker

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The Independent Football

West Ham have moved to sign Israel international Yaniv Katan from Maccabi Haifa with the striker becoming available, subject to a medical, following the close of the January transfer window.

Fellow Israel star Yossi Benayoun, who joined the Hammers in the summer, recommended Katan to manager Alan Pardew who said: "We expect him to become an important member of our club."

The Hammers had to move fast to grab the 24-year-old on a three-and-a-half year deal ahead of a host of European clubs with his contract with Haifa due to expire at the end of the season.

The transfer is subject to the player passing a medical and obtaining a work permit but West Ham do not anticipate any problems.

Pardew said: "The chance to sign a player of his quality was a great opportunity for West Ham United and one that we could not miss.

"His signing represents a good deal for the club, and will give us the resources to further add to the squad when the transfer window opens in January."

Born in Kiryat Ata, Israel, Yaniv Katan joined Maccabi Haifa at the age of nine and has been the leading scorer in every season of his rise through the Maccabi youth system.

By the age of 17 he was a regular in the senior side, where he became a team-mate of Hammers star and fellow countryman Benayoun.

In the 2001-02 season he scored a hat-trick for Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League second qualifying round against FC Haka of Finland, becoming just the second Israeli player to score a European hat-trick.

In the next Champions League season he scored twice against Manchester United, only for Maccabi to miss out on qualification for the next round of the tournament.

Katan made his international debut for Israel aged just 19, against Hungary in June 2000. He has scored four goals in 20 matches for his country.

Although Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora have found their goalscoring touch recently for the Hammers, veteran Teddy Sheringham is out of action with a calf injury and Pardew brought in French pair David Bellion (Manchester United) and Jeremie Aliadiere (Arsenal) on season-long loans to supplement his strike force.

But he was still disappointed to miss out on bigger front-line signings in the summer when Czech Republic ace Milan Baros moved to Aston Villa from Liverpool and Togo's Emmanuel Adeybayor decided to stay with Monaco after giving every indication he was set to leave the French club.