A year ago, I wrote this about Cosmin Matei, when the kid signed for Steaua Bucharest a five years long deal. He managed to stay there for a year, which I have to rate as an unexpected performance, featuring in five games in the league and collecting some minutes in Europe, as well. Now, he was sold to Astra Ploiesti, where he agreed on another five years long deal. Knowing the coach, Tibor Selymes, he could find it even harder to play over here…
The name is Ribeiro Moraes, a Brazilian striker who made a truly outstanding first half of season in Romania, and was associated until now with CFR Cluj, Steaua, Rapid and FC Vaslui, all title contenders, keen to add such an impressive 23 years old to their roster. Bought by Gloria Bistrita for just 200.000 Euros, the guy basically secured for his team another season in Liga I, with 10 goals scored in 17 matches (was the league’s top scorer in the secod half of the season!) and a series of excellent performances. He’s a striker who has it all, pace, strength, technique, composure, who proveded his ability to adjust to a totally new style of play and environment, who had every reason to hope that he’ll be showing his skills in European competitions next season and fight for the title. Well, as Gloria Bistrita did struck gold on this occasion, the club’s president refused to accept anything below the release clause, which is 2 million Euros, a price that only Rapid was still trying to negotiate, at this time.
Well, today, Rapid and all the others found out that Gloria Bistrita accepted a bid for the player from Astra Ploiesti, a team that just managed to avoid relegation last season, but who seems to have finally reached a level of ambition that matches the financial strength of the club’s owner, Ioan Niculae. Ribeiro Moraes himself said that he awaits the financial offer and could accept this move, so we could be in for the absolute surprise of this summer’s transfer activity…
- FIFA agent Victor Becali has planned a trip to Bulgaria, in order to talk with CSKA’s board and release Daniel Pancu of his current deal. Pancu had moved to Sofia during the winter break, following Ioan Andone, but, in spite of some decent performances, fell out of favor with the new coach, with the angry fans and didn’t get paid in the last couple of months, so he decided to leave the club. Currently training (which isn’t ok, is it?) with Rapid, Pancu stated that he would agree a return to Rapid, after solving an old conflict with the club’s owner, George Copos. A good move for Rapid if all goes well, as this is also a step made by Copos to keep coach Ioan Andone at the club at least for another season.
- The dismissal of Italian coach Nicolo Napoli was followed by a similar episode to the one that made Dinamo keep the headlines in the past week. Four players (all bought this winter, at Napoli’s demand) refused to make the trip to Ceahlaul, for a game that could be vital for Astra’s future in the Liga I. Marcelo Mendez, Diego Silva, Danilo Carando and Gonzalo Salgueiro are now on the black list and could have the same faith as Alejandro Kruchowsky and Maximiliano Arias, the two defenders who were already released, after a string of poor performances.
- Liviu GANEA - 22 years old, striker, Astra Ploiesti
Recalled by Dinamo during the winter break, after a solid first half of season for the newly promoted team from Ploiesti (6 goals in 13 matches), he rejoined Astra a few days before the first oficial game of 2010. Although he had trained with another team for two months, his performance against Pandurii was more than decent, as he tormented the opposition’s defense with his movement and also offered an excellent assist for Astra’s second goal. His next performance was outstanding, though, as he scored a brace against one of the best organized teams in the league, FC Brasov. Both goals came through well placed headers, although he’s the type of forward who’s excellent at running the channels, taking on his man and looking to shoot whenever he gets the chance, looking rather poor (and scared) in the air! With this brace, Ganea gets a new season high, as last season he scored 7 times in 25 matches and now he’s got 8 goals in 15 games, but still has other 15 opportunities to improve this amazing scoring rate…
- Gabriel GIURGIU – 27 years old, central midfielder, Otelul Galati
Scored the decisive goal away at Ceahlaul and offered the same solid display in the centre of the park, like in the previous round. Otelul has now 6 points of out 6 and, lacking the quality forwards able to make the difference upfront, has to rely on the hard work done by plyayers like Giurgiu, who managed to add something extra to his usual game, breaking forward a lot more often than before and taking his chances upfront when they appear.
- Dorel Zaharia - 32 years old, striker, FC Brasov
The experienced centre forward helped his team come back from 0-1, with an excellent performance up front, where he partnered Attila Hadnagy in the first half and the promising Sabrin Sburlea, after the break. The former Steaua player levelled the score with an excellent right footed shot from just outside the box and managed to setup the decisive goal after a good run down the right flank and an excellent low cross for Sabrin Sburlea, who had such an easy task that he scored even though he had almost missed the ball with his right foot.
Zaharia, who’s career highlight was a goal in the Champions League, on Emirates Stadium, against Arsenal, played 30 matches for FC Brasov, scoring four goals in the process.
- Ciprian Vasilache – 26 years old, left midfielder, Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt
The once very promising left footed midfielder (can play on various positions, from left back to central attacking midfielder) was decisive for his new team, in the biggest surprise of the round, the 3-1 victory away at Steaua. Used on the left side of a midfield of four, Vasilache showed excellent work-rate, but also composure and vision, knowing when to keep hold of the ball, dictating the tempo and offering quality balls for the forwards. On top of all that, he provided the assist for Ceahlaul’s equalizer and also managed to score an incredible goal: he surprised Steaua’s keeper, Zapata, with a sprint from midfield and managed to score from 20 meters out with an undefined part of his body, as he blocked the goalie’s clearance!
Vasilache, who started a promising career at Gloria Bistrita and played at a young age for Rapid Bucharest (only 35 matches in three seasons!) had been released on a free by Pandurii at the end of 2009, after he had failed to feature in a single game during the first half of season. He signed for Ceahlaul after spending a few weeks in Antalya, Turkey, and offering his services to any club interested to offer him a trial.
- Takayuki Seto - 24 years old, central midfielder, Astra Ploiesti
The Japanese central midfielder was instrumental in Astra’s vital win against Pandurii Targu Jiu (both clubs are fighting to stay clear of the relegation zone), the first away win of the season for the newly promoted. Deployed in amore advanced role than usual, Seto showed solid playmaking abilities, looking composed and visionary in the centre of the park, mastering the art of dictating the play, waiting for the right time to pass and choosing the right option to continue the build up. Plus, he gave a solid hand in recovering possession and also made several runs in the box, which could have been better speculated by his colleagues.
Seto has a very interesting story, as he left Japan at a tender age and moved to Brazil “to learn how to play football”. Started to make a name for himself in Romania playing for a thrid league team FC Ploiesti and managing two consecutive promotions (FC Ploiesti changed its name into Astra Ploiesti). He played on a number of positions in midfield, even as a winger, and showed that he can score wonderful goals, even though, so far, has managed to score just once in the first division.. Still, this quiet and professional Japanese player impresses with his consistency, as he stayed on the pitch for 90 minutes in 17 of the 18 matches played so far!
- Universitatea Craiova signed Ivan Paunovic (23), from Srem. The Serbian midfielder agreed to a short contract, until the end of the season, but with an option to extend it for four more years. Interesting enough, the player brought in Romania by FIFA agent Marcel Popescu had been training for the past couple of weeks with Astra Ploiesti, but failed to agree terms when it came to put pen to paper.
- Although his move to Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt was officially announced, Vasile Buhaescu (22) switched sides today and went on loan to a second division club, Concordia Chiajna. The striker, a former U21 player for Romania, belongs to FC Vaslui, but would have had no realistic chance to feature in the second half of season, given the tough competition for a place in the team and the club’s ambition to try and mount a serious title challenge.
- Dinamo and Astra Ploiesti, teams that were sharing the rights of two players, Georgian Paun (24, forward) and Eugen Craciun (23, full back), found an agreement that makes Paun a Dinamo player and transfers Craciun to Astra. If Craciun will continue to play for Astra, where he was on loan for the past two years anyway, Paun was re-directed to Politehnica Iasi, on loan until the end of the season, after a week or spent in Dinamo’s training camp from Turkey.
- Cosmin Contra (34) confirmed the deal with FC Timisoara. The veteran full back has found an agreement with Getafe’s president and will be allowed to move to Timisoara as a free player. Contra will sign until the summer and is hoping to help the club win the league. Born in Timisoara, Contra has only played for half of season for the Viola outfit, collecting 14 appearances, back in 2005.
- Universitatea Craiova made a bold move and completed the buy of star forward Florin Costea (24), from CSM Ramnicu Valcea. Although Costea (who’s also regarded as a solution for the national team – and might find even more space, in case Mutu won’t find a miraculous solution and avoid suspension) plays for Craiova since 2006, 25% of his transfer rights were still belonging to the second division club. And Craiova decided to pay 500.000 EUR in exchange, a lot of money, even though Costea was reportedly a target for big clubs from abroad, ready to meet an asking price of 4-5 mil. EUR! Knowing the player and that 75% of the rumors published this winter were rubbish, my bet is that he won’t leave Craiova for a higher price than 1.5 mil. EUR, if he’ll ever make a move abroad at all!
- Unirea Alba Iulia signed Argentinian midfielder Enzo Bruno (22). The former Independiente player came as a free agent and signed a contract until the end of the season.
- The Argentinian young striker Danilo Ezequiel Carando (20) agreed to sign a contract with Astra Ploiesti until June 2012. The forward joins a list of players bought by Astra from South America this winter: Deigo Silva (22, striker, from River Plate, in Uruguay), Maximilian Arias (21, midfielder, from Fenix, in Uruguay), Gonzalo Salgueiro (23, goalkeeper, born in Uruguay, comes from Kalamata, Greece), Alejandro Kruchowski (27, full back, born in Argentina) and Marcelo Fabian Mendez Russo (28, central defender, from Montevideo Wanderers, in Uruguay). All the players have been recommended and assisted by Diego Solivaret.
The coach from Astra Ploiesti has five new players under observation:
- Diego Silva – forward, 22 years old, plays for River Plate in Uruguay
- Alvaro Dario Alonso – full back, 28 years old, plays for Rampla Juniors in Uruguay
- Luis Angel Vildozo – forward, 28 years old, plays for Union San Felipe in Chile
- Marcelo Fabian Mendez Russo – central defender, 28 years old, plays for Montevideo Wanderers in Uruguay
- Jimmy Nicolas Schmidt Vallejo – goalkeeper, 28 years old, plays for Central Espanol in Uruguay
The players have been brough by FIFA agent Marcel Popescu and the Montearreo agency.
Newly promoted Astra Ploiesti lies in 12th place in the league and has under contract 6 other foreign players: Radek Oprsal (central defender from Czech Republic, 31 years old), Abel Valdez (central defender from Argentina, 21 years old), Seto Takayuki (central midfielder from Japan, 24 years old), Paulo Dinarte Gouveia Pestana “Paulinho” (attacking midfielder from Portugal, 24 years old), Kevin Hatchi (central midfielder from France, 28 years old) and Dusan Djokic (striker from Serbia, 29 years old – on loan from Club Brugge)