Ben Haim: I want to play for Pompey

Tal Ben Haim has not played for Pompey since last May
Tal Ben Haim has not played for Pompey since last May
Jez Bedford

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Tal Ben Haim today told Pompey: I want to play for you next season.

That is the shock declaration from the Israeli defender, whose Fratton Park career appears to be over.

The 29-year-old is one of just nine players currently contracted to the Blues.

Yet he is involved in a long-running legal wrangle with the club, who earlier this year told boss Steve Cotterill not to select the former Chelsea defender.

Pompey are desperate to offload Ben Haim, who earns a reported £36,000 a week.

That has prompted them to seek scrapping the remaining two years on that deal.

It has been a complex issue ongoing since Ben Haim returned from a loan spell with West Ham on January 7.

As a result, he has been made unavailable for first-team selection.

Ben Haim, though, has continued to train with Steve Cotterill’s men.

During that period he has been eligible for almost £700,000 in wages.

However, it is understood Pompey are not paying the ex-Bolton and Manchester City man as the impasse continues.

Despite Ben Haim’s days at Fratton Park looking numbered, his agent, Pini Zahavi, insists his client still intends to play for the club.

Zahavi said: ‘There is nothing happening with Tal at the moment.

‘He is still the player of Portsmouth and he would like to play for them.

‘He wanted to play this season, the manager wanted him to play as well.

‘He has kept playing international football and trained every day with Portsmouth.

‘Tal still wants to play for the club. You will have to ask Portsmouth why he is not.’

Pompey refused to comment on the latest situation regarding Ben Haim.

The Israel international signed from Manchester City in August 2009 in a four-year deal worth around £7.5m.

But he has not played for Pompey for more than a year.

His last appearance came as a substitute at Everton on May 9, 2010, which was Pompey’s final Premier League game before relegation.

Ben Haim hasn’t actually started a Blues match since March 9, 2010.

On that occasion, Avram Grant’s side lost 2-1 at Fratton Park against Birmingham.

He spent half of this season on loan at West Ham.

The defender made 12 appearances under Grant at Upton Park.

Yet the Hammers declined to take up the option of a permanent deal and Ben Haim returned to the south coast in January.

That once again lumbered Pompey with one of the biggest pay packets in the Championship.

With chief executive David Lampitt seeking to wrestle wages back under control, Ben Haim’s situation has proven to be a major headache.

As a result, the Blues have been attempting to rip up his contract early.

The issue remains on-going, it now being almost six months since Ben Haim returned to the south coast.

Despite his desire to stay put, though, Cotterill is not considering the defender as part of his plans for the new campaign.

That effectively leaves the Blues manager with just eight players next season.

In the meantime, Pompey are continuing trying to find a solution to Ben Haim’s contract problem.