Thursday, April 25, 2024

Liel Abada allowed to cut short his stint with Celtic and head for United States

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Mar 2024

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Celtic have allowed winger Liel Abada to leave the club for a fresh start in Major League Soccer.

The Israel international has signed for Charlotte FC in North Carolina, having not featured for the past five weeks due to personal reasons. Manager Brendan Rodgers had previously admitted he was struggling to focus as the conflict in Gaza continued.

Abada, 22, had faced pressure in his home country because of the support for Palestine among the club’s fanbase.

The situation first flared up the day after the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, which led to more than 1,100 deaths plus the taking of hostages, when two banners among Celtic fans at Parkhead read: “Free Palestine” and “Victory to the Resistance”.

Palestine flags have continued to be flown among Celtic supporters amid Israel’s ongoing military assault, which has left tens of thousands of Palestinians dead or wounded according to the Gaza health ministry.

Abada returned to the side on December 30 but was unable to recreate his previous good form in six subsequent appearances, which proved to be his last for Celtic.

His signing was announced by Charlotte, whose general manager Zoran Krneta focused on football rather than politics.

“Liel has been one of the most exciting young wingers in Europe and we’re delighted to welcome him to Charlotte,” he said.

“He’s an elite goalscorer and chance creator who is a proven winner that is determined to bring trophies home to the club and our supporters,” said General Manager Zoran Krneta. “To bring a player of his calibre to Major League Soccer speaks to the strength of the league, but also that Charlotte FC is an attractive destination for top foreign talent.”

Speaking last month after Abada opted to step away, Rodgers offered his understanding as he opened the exit door to the player.

“I have had lots of conversations with Liel and I am really empathetic towards the issue he has. It’s more than football. It’s at a human level, so I have to respect that.

“There’s many situations I have had to deal with as a manager over time, and lots of them you don’t get on the coaching courses. You have to understand and sit in his shoes. When he’s ready, if he ever is ready, then he will be able to give us everything.”

Abada was the second player to leave Celtic Park on Thursday, with left-back Alexandro Bernabei joining Brazilian side Internacional on loan for the rest of 2024.

The Porto Allegre-based club confirmed the deal for the Argentinian, who has only made 16 starts since arriving at Celtic Park in the summer of 2022.

Four of those starts came under Brendan Rodgers, all of them since the winter break when Greg Taylor was missing with a calf problem.

The 23-year-old came off the bench in the subsequent game but was culpable as Celtic conceded a stoppage-time equaliser against Kilmarnock.

That could prove to be his final appearance for the club if the loan move is made more permanent, although Bernabei is under contract at Celtic Park until the summer of 2027.

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