When Steaua turned down the 8 million Euros deal offered by Tottenham, I thought pleading insanity would be the right choice for the red and blue outfit to defend itself in a few months time. But Tottenham came back and came back with more money and, more important, less urgency to get an answer, as the first time it wasn’t the fee, but the pressure to get a yes or a now that blocked a deal. It was obvious that this time it will go through and those who follow me on Twitter (@rbaicu) got a heads-up earlier than everyone else that “Chiriches to #THFC” is back on ;)
The statements to back it up came right after last night’s 2-2 draw against Gaz Metan Medias, a second consecutive game watched by Chiriches from the sidelines. “The transfer is almost done. Clubs have reached an agreement. The owner asked me to reveal the deal, all that remains to be done is finish the paperwork. I hope I will be able to use the player one last time on Tuesday, against Legia”, said Laurentiu Reghecampf, who immediately got an unexpected response from the player’s agent, Ioan Becali. “It was wrong of Steaua to announce the deal, the player is yet to agree terms with Tottenham. They also have another match to play, Chiriches wasn’t supposed to know all this.”
Of course, you can understand the agent’s point of view, although I found it odd that he decided to hide all this from his client – a scenario confirmed later by Steaua’s sporting director, Mihai Stoica: “Experience tells me you cannot hide such a thing from a player. Even if the agent didn’t say anything to him, Chiriches was aware of the move this morning (Saturday morning). He should have known that against Legia he will play his last match from Steaua. As for the decision to announce the deal, it was Gigi Becali’s demand from prison and we have to obey. Reghecampf was asked to break the news and also announce the 9,5 million Euros fee.”
Well, Stoica completed Reghecampf’s job with this last detail, which places the Bucharest club on top of the highest transfer fees ever received by a Liga 1 outfit. Interesting fact: top three moves involve defenders, with the former Benfica trainee staying (well) above Cristian Sapunaru, now 29 years old, playing for Elche, who had moved from Rapid to FC Porto in 2008, for 6 million Euros, and Stefan Radu, the 26 years old who’s been with Lazio for the past 5 and a half seasons, signing from Dinamo in 2008, after a half year loan.
In Romania, the former international and two times champion, while coaching Rapid and Dinamo, has a nickname difficult to accurately translate into another language, as it seems to refer to his physical appearance, while it was meant to define his character. If it was easier, clubs like Khazar Lankaran and Standard Liege would have been better prepared for Mircea Rednic’s arrival…
“Strambul” means in fact “The crooked one” and, as good as he is strictly in terms of coaching, Rednic’s hands-on approach in the club’s transfer activity leads him off-track most of the time. I hope my elegant choice of terms doesn’t go unnoticed :)
Let’s go back to Rednic’s first adventure abroad, in 2010, when he took over Khazar, a club ready to pay for supremacy in Azerbaijan, so on the table was a two years long deal with 800.000 euros per season for the head coach. That should have been enough, but not for Rednic, who demanded and supervised the arrival of no less than 10 players from Liga 1. Besides some handsome “bonuses” for seeing all these moves through, he won the Cup and finished second in the league, after his first season, which turned out to be also his last. Forced out of the club, he was soon followed by all the players he signed, a reaction that we are seeing now, at a smaller scale, from Standard Liege.
Rednic used to play for “Les Rouches” and looked like a handy solution to the team’s struggles, when he was appointed halfway through last season. Although offered only a temporary deal, the 51 years old got off to such a good start that during the winter break the club’s board had to give in to his demands and move for two players from Liga 1. The first (shocking) move was the signing of Adrian Cristea, an attacking midfielder considered for ages one of the biggest Romanian talents, but also a champion at wasting his gifts and throwing away his career. Ok, it was only a loan with a buying option from Petrolul, but it was still strange to see him risk his reputation and the chance of signing a long term deal with Standard for one of the laziest and least professional players from Liga 1…
The second lead to the transfer of George Tucudean, a young striker from the cash-strapped Dinamo. Although (or because?) Rednic was well-aware of his former club’s financial trouble, Standard came up with a naive offer of 800.000 euros + a 200.000 euros bonus in case the team made it into Europe. A deal that could have been done for half that money, but as an official from the Belgian club whom I’ve crossed during a scouting trip told me this was considered collateral damage. “We know who we’ve signed” were the words that convinced me that, no matter how well Rednic did, he was not there to stay.
Released at the end of last season, although he had resurected the team, winning over the dressing room and the fans, Rednic is now followed by both Cristea and Tucudean. Cristea had his loan terminated, after 8 appearances and no goals (a total of 290 minutes spent on the pitch), while Tucudean, who has a longer deal with the club, was informed that he needs to find himself a new team, as he is out of Standard’s plans. The 22 years old started just one game, played as a sub in 9, failing to find the net and getting himself sent off once. His young age and potential suddenly don’t matter? No, of course not, it’s just that Standard feels that the house needs a proper cleaning process, after Rednic’s stay, a reaction that we’ve seen before and will encounter again in the future. Because “The crooked one”, now in charge of CFR Cluj, doesn’t seem to be lacking offers from clubs with money to
throw away spend.
With 12 goals scored in 22 starts, last season has finally confirmed Constantin Budescu’s talent, easy to notice since he made his senior debut, aged only 16. But having to wait for it until he turned 23 means there is a reason why Astra Giurgiu’s number 10 still gets the stick. It happened after a 10 minutes hat-trick against Viitorul Constanta, in the first round of the new season, as the club owner Ioan Niculae shocked everybody: “Budescu could turn into a great player, but he needs to get his head right. The essence of life is not a juicy stake and it doesn’t matter if you give it all during training if you drink afterwards one liter of Coke…”
The player gave a neutral response and kept his focus, which was definitely good to see and an encouraging sign for the rest of a season that could end up with an important change in his career. Budescu added a brace last weekend, in the 5-2 away win vs Corona Brasov, and now leads Liga 1’s scoring charts with 5 goals, while impressive performances have helped his team overcome the nerves of a European debut. Astra already took out Domzale and Omonia and a 3-1 away win against AS Trencin means the tie is already over. In each of these matches, the attacking midfielder managed either a goal or an assist, having 3 goals and 2 assist after five game played in Europa League’s preliminary rounds.
Eating Going at this rate will surely result in a second call-up to Romania’s senior national team, increase the interest from abroad and decrease the level of criticism he usually has to deal with from his vocal owner. Unless the later has the effect I fear :), we might see this player gifted with a great right foot and a technical ability worthy of a bigger league, come winter time he might be quite far from the tasty, but heavy Christmas Romanian cuisine…