PLAYER PROFILE #2
GAI ASSULIN – “The New Messi”
Gui Assulin was born in Nahariya on the 9th of April 1991. He is one of Israel’s exceptional young talents that exist among football today. Assulin started his career at the footballing school of Hapoel Haifa. When he was just seven years old, Assulin moved to the Bietar Tubruk youth ranks. He was rapidly evolving as a fine individual talent and at the age of 12, his team coach, Shlomo Scharf proposed to Assulin’s parents to consider taking their son to try out for the FC Barcelona youth team. They accepted the proposal and were delighted to find out that Gai was chosen for the youth squad.
The hard work finally paid off for Gai Assulin as he graduated to the FC Barcelona ‘B’ team at the start of August 2007, and was offered a new contract, senior contract and his buy-out clause was beefed up to €20 million. Gai Assulin was living the dream and got his first taste of first team football in September of that year, when he made an appearance in the 46th minute against Girona FC in the semi-final of the Copa Catalunya.
Unfortunately just as he was beginning to prove himself he struggled with injuries during the 2008/09 season. He worked hard over that year regaining form & fitness, which saw him receive an invitation from first team coach Pep Guardiola to participate in pre-season matches with Barcelona. He featured in 3 of Barcelona’s six pre-season friendlies playing against Tottenham Hotspur, Al-Alhy & Manchester City. He continued to impress and made his debut start for Guardiola’s side, competing against Cultural Leonesa in late 2009. Because of the lengthy 2009/10 season Pep Guardiola rested several key players and introduced four Barca ‘B’ players which included Assulin.
Unfortunately for Gai, Barca had no reason to extend his contract and it was announced by mutual consent on 1st of July 2010 that Assulin would be leaving the club. Gai was often linked to premier league clubs with Arsenal, Blackburn & Tottenham interested in his services. On October 8th 2010 it was reported that Assulin had joined big spenders Manchester City but the contract was a trial for the time being. He was in and out of Eastlands until finally he was signed early this week on a two and a half year deal.
Assulin was delighted and he said, “I had heard a lot about City, and as soon as I saw the club I wanted to stay. I’m at a great club and I hope to be here a long time. I have to take my opportunity and learn every day in training.”
Assulin also became noticed on an international scale for the Israel national side, becoming their youngest ever player, capped two weeks before his 17th birthday, when he trotted out against Chile in 2008. To this day, that has been his only national cap.