It was a summer to remember for Romanian clubs (although the newspapers haven’t noticed it just yet…)! With Chiriches finally moved to Tottenham, we have a new record transfer fee paid for a Liga I player. We also have 5 players signed by Serie A clubs, 3 gone to Ligue 1 and 1 in La Liga, none other than last season’s top scorer. Teams from Belgium, Croatia and Switzerland – good European stepping stones – have made their picks, with Russia and Turkey paying good money to either clubs or players (or both) to sign no less than 7 established footballers. And Steaua decided to keep some in-demand players to make it into the Champions League’s group stage, otherwise the numbers would have been bigger and the figures even more impressive. Below, you can find my top ten transfers of the summer, which is of course debatable, but I’ve tried to filter the twenty-something important moves using as filter the quality and potential of the player in question, age, level of the buying club and level of the league he’s going to.
I, for one, don’t remember a more prolific transfer window in recent years, in terms of fees paid for Liga I’s top names and number of exports, especially to top leagues from Western Europe. Is it just a coincidence or the Romanian league has gained a better reputation? If this would be the case, then we’d have another premiere on our hands, with the clubs’ performances in the internal and European competitions drawing attention, not the exposure offered by Romania’s national team(s). Take Gheorghe Grozav’s case, who was heavily promoted by Victor Piturca and only got a late move to Terek Grozny. Or Ciprian Marica’s, who is struggling to find himself a new club, just like Gabriel Tamas, released by WBA, or Gabriel Torje, who had troubles convincing another club to loan him, a full transfer being out of the question…
Do we have stronger clubs? I can only think of exceptions. Is Liga I more competitive? It surely was two-three years ago – remember the days when Steaua, Dinamo, Rapid, CFR and Vaslui were fighting to get the title from Otelul Galati -, but that race got less and less tensed, with Dinamo’s and Rapid’s financial trouble, and CFR’s and Vaslui’s loss of investment/interest. Do we sign / promote better players? I’d say mainly by accident, considering the amateur take on player recruitment and lack of funds, knowledge and dedication allocated to the youth sector (of course, I will keep Hagi’s Academy out of this!).
Having the chance to see most of the European leagues in the past couple of years, given my assignments in scouting, I think the answer to the question of attractiveness gets a positive note only when related to the level of leagues from Croatia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Poland, not to mention Slovenia, Hungary or Bulgaria. The gap is rather discrete, I must say, and a good player from Liga I is tested in an equally if not more competitive environment than in the mentioned countries, making him prepared enough for a step abroad, in the eyes of visiting scouts. Add some good runs in Europe, like CFR’s or Steaua’s and we’re only kept back by reputation. One that surely doesn’t speak in Romania’s favor, but can be changed by each and everyone who gets the chance to play abroad…
We all knew that Razvan Lucescu would have a very difficult task in renewing Romania’s national team, but we all hoped that he would at least try to do it. Since he took over, he managed to lose matches with the team, the public’s respect for the promising club coach he was before his appointment and all sense of logic in his actions. Here we are, almost sure that we’ll be missing out on yet another final tournament, facing an important friendly match that would test his choices even more than some of the recent official games. Read more…
Ciprian Marica thinks about retirement. Stuttgart’s fans have no reason to celebrate: it’s about the national team
(In)famous agents Ioan and Victor Becali decided to change tactics before the game in France, refusing to comment regarding the national team and especially its coach, Razvan Lucescu. They knew that Mircea’s son had little chances to come out with a win, so “Le Bleus” were going to give them a hand in changing this stubborn coach, who refuses to acknowledge their influence and picks his team on his own.
It was one of their clients who spoiled this decent plan, as Ciprian Marica needed just a couple of training sessions to realize that he was going to start the match on the bench, in spite of his outstanding scoring record of one goal in almost 800 minutes played for the national team, under Lucescu Jr. On Friday, Victor Becali appeared on tv and spoke about his client’s thoughts to stop playing for Romania. Marica himself refused to use these words, but stated his discontent, saying that “The coach favors other players”, still hoping that this kind of pressure might change Lucescu’s plans. It didn’t, but the young coach showed enough diplomacy to send Marica on the pitch in the second half. Read more…
With Cristian Chivu, Razvan Rat and Stefan Radu out injured, Razvan Lucescu offered Gabriel Tamas (transferred in January to West Bromwich Albion) the chance to reclaim his spot in the team. Another surprise is the absence of the first two choices for the goalkeeper postion, Lobont and Coman, but, looking at the likes of Gaman, Sepsi, Florescu or Deac, it’s obvious that the National Team coach is trying to evaluate some of the promising, yet established players in the first division. Here’s is the full list of players:
- Goalkeepers: Mircea Bornescu (Rapid, 29), Costel Pantilimon (FC Timisoara, 23)
- Defenders: Cristian Panin (CFR Cluj, 31), Vasile Maftei (Unirea Urziceni, 29), Gabriel Tamas (WBA, 26), Dorin Goian (Palermo, 29), Mirel Radoi (Al-Hilal, 28), Valerica Gaman (Universitatea Craiova, 21), Laszlo Sepsi (FC Timisoara, 23), Mihai Nesu (FC Utrecht, 27)
- Midfielders: Banel Nicolita (Steaua, 25), Mihai Roman (FC Brasov, 25), Iulian Apostol (Unirea Urziceni, 29), Paul Codrea (Siena, 28), Tiberiu Ghioane (Dynamo Kiew, 28), George Florescu (FC Midjtyland, 25), Ciprian Deac (CFR Cluj, 24)
- Forwards: Gigel Bucur (Kuban, 29), Andrei Cristea (Dinamo Bucharest, 25), Ciprian Marica (VFB Stuttgart, 24), Daniel Niculae (Auxerre, 27), Marius Niculae (Dinamo Bucharest, 28).
Update: Lucescu decided that the third keeper will be Steaua’s Ciprian Tatarusanu (22), while the injured Iulian Apostol has been replaced by his colleague from Unirea Razvan Paduretu (28).