One of the most prominent players in the ranks of the under-20 national team at the World Cup is, without a doubt, Dor Turgeman. The young striker of Maccabi Tel Aviv, who scored Israel's first goal of the tournament and artfully cooked the winning goal against Japan, is under surveillance by Benfica and Club Brugge, and from game to game his name enters the notebooks of more and more scouts.
Turgeman, 20, scored the lone goal last season in the cup. In the league, he is waiting for his debut goal, the reason being the few minutes he received (221). At the same time, professional manager Barak Yitzhaki refused to release him to Beitar Jerusalem in January, and not only for that reason many wonder why the talented striker did not get to play, especially in a bad season for the Yellows. The truth is that the explanation for this is simple - hierarchy.
Eran Zehavi. Dor Turgeman cannot take his place, photo: Danny Maron
"Every coach who manages a squad knows that you can't exclude players like Zahavi and Jovanovic, and on the other hand you don't want Golsa, Goyagon, Kanikowski and Jonathan Cohen to be constantly frustrated on the bench. That's why it's easier to get them in before Turgeman," Maccabi Tel Aviv said, admitting: "Not everyone liked it."
Turgeman's huge advantage, who came to Maccabi Tel Aviv at the age of 15 from MS Ashdod, is diversity. He can play as a striker, under the striker and on the wing. His control of the ball with his back to goal is at the highest level. He has outstanding speed, delivery and technique.
"When you see him bouncing a ball and doing tricks, it's like stuntmen doing crazy things on the street," says striker Idan Ben Abu's agent. "What's amazing is that even in the biggest games he brings these elements to the fore: stopping the ball on his thigh, giving a heel with an opposite eye in the most perfect touch in the 92nd minute, which set us up for the goal for the final eight instead of packing suitcases."
Turgeman in a Maccabi Tel Aviv uniform must get a lot more minutes, photo: Danny Maron
A senior Maccabi Tel Aviv official estimated that "Turgeman will in the future be a striker no less good than Sean Weisman." Ben Abu agrees: "A generation has not had potential for a long time, it is already there. There is no striker in Israeli football with abilities like his. I think he will surpass the greatest strikers we've had and made careers in Europe. I don't compare him to players who aren't in the same role - only with forwards.
"Dor, in my view, should already be a player in the senior Israeli national team. You can see today in the World Cup that he plays against the best players in the world under the age of 20 and he is a level above them. If he had gotten more minutes at Maccabi Tel Aviv, everyone would have seen it a few months ago."
Turgeman's goal tonight against Uzbekistan in the eighth final will double the value of his shares, and next month he is set to be one of the leading players of the young team at the European Championship.
If he had a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv for another four or five years, it is possible that teams from Europe would already offer him 5-4 million euros, but in light of the fact that next summer he will be a free agent, his price - so the teams abroad believe - should be significantly lower.
Turgeman in the national team uniform. A lot of scouts follow him, photo: Assi Kieffer, Israel Football Association
Maccabi understands the situation very well. They don't want to lose the player without getting paid for him, and negotiations for a long-term contract are already underway. It may include a release clause to Europe in a mutually agreeable manner, as was the case with Oskar Gloch, who extended a contract for a €7 million exit clause.
Turgeman, for his part, will also demand that Maccabi receive significant playing minutes, and if the sides do not reach an agreement on a contract extension, he will try to find a team in the European league.
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Ben Abu concludes: "We will take a good look at our options, and obviously things depend on his abilities, but whatever destination Dor chooses - he will be a significant player, who does not have to wait for another player's injury to play. This year he rarely got minutes – it's something that won't happen again."
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