It was announced today that 24-year-old playmaker Gai Assulin will undergo a trial period with Rangers, hoping to win a permanent move under manager Mark Warburton. We caught up with Assulin’s Israeli compatriot and Journalist Raphael Gellar to get the lowdown on the player.
RC: So Gai Assulin has started a trial with Rangers? What is your initial reaction? Potentially a good move?
Raphael Gellar: Yes, Gai Assulin has been linked with several clubs in Israel including Beitar Jerusalem and for a while was linked with clubs in Denmark. In the end, they didn’t come to an agreement with any club in Denmark and the Israeli clubs tried chasing Assulin. Gai made it clear he is rather interested in finding a club in Europe rather than returning to Israel. Looks like he found a nice club, the question is will they sign him. I am happy to hear Gai is at a big club with a huge fan base. We will have to see how the next few weeks go before we know it’s its a good move. But Gai has a lot of potential.
RC: Tell us a bit about the player?
Raphael Gellar: Gai was very technical at a young age and that really impressed Barcelona. Many say that he was one of Barcelona B best player during his time there. One of the things I would say about Gai is that he had an enormous amount of pressure put on him at a young age. He was called up to the NT at 16. Looking back, I am not sure that was the best idea. I would stay his strength/physicality is one of his weaknesses, he has been injured a lot and that has caused him several chances at continuity at several clubs. If it wasn’t for many injuries, you never know where he would be now. I believe that having him play as a winger would be the best position for him now. But I would have to know more about Rangers and what you are looking for.
RC: What about his time at FC Barcelona and his move to Manchester City?
Raphael Gellar: As I wrote above, Gai was very promising in Barcelona B and was given lots of praise by several Barca staffers and instantly became a hero in Israel at a very young age. Unfortunately, coaching decisions and perhaps questionable decisions by Gai’s agent stalled his career. He wasn’t really given a chance for Barca’s senior side, but there was much more to it then talent/ability, politics were an issue as well. Man City didn’t give Gai that much of an opportunity with the first team so he went on loan and for the most part the loans were not successful. The bottom line is, Gai has a huge amount of talent and is still very young, but I believe he has not found the right club for him to thrive.
RC: And his performances recently ? Why has he struggled to settle down?
Raphael Gellar: There’s lots of reasons for him struggling. Some decisions his agents have made over the years might have cost him. Instead of going from Barca to Man City, maybe he should have tried a smaller club that could offer him regular minutes and where he could get comfortable. When he got to Granada he was loaned out immediately to Hercules where the club got relegated to the 3rd division. Things like this are never good for a football player’s moral. Shortly after that he joined Mallorca where they had several coaching changes and Gai was never really part of the plans the last year and often didn’t even make the squad. Gai needs supporters and a manager who believes that he can help the squad and give him confidence. Like I keep saying, he is young & I am hoping he is hungry to play well and succeed. t’s sad to see where his career has gone, but like Ben Sahar (a former Chelsea player) who went through similar type situations, I believe he can bounce back. Ben Sahar had a really successful season last year in Holland with a club that appreciated him and showed him respect and match time. That is what Gai needs.
RC: What will it take for him to kick start his career properly?
Minutes. Minutes. Minutes. He needs to get comfortable playing again. The last two seasons of his career were a disaster. He needs to gain his confidence back and the best way to do that is by giving him as much minutes as possible. If he gets the minutes and things don’t work out, then at least you gave it a shot, but I believe that he could end up being a very solid signing for you to help you reach the top division again.
FOLLOW Raphael HERE.