Using a list of players who’ve entered the last year of their current contracts published by GSP, I have decided to put together a best eleven that might prove useful even for some clubs who had no time or interest to scout properly Liga 1. We have national team players, players who won the title or who are fighting for it, who impressed in the Champions League, and it will be interesting to see the type of clubs willing to take a risk. Somehow, I get the feeling that most of good foreign clubs look at players from Romania as a big gamble – lack of proper scouting, as I said :) – so in this case we’re talking about either small stakes in January or almost free bets in June. It can’t get better than that, can it?
Goalkeeper: Ciprian Tatarusanu
Definitely one of the most interesting “cases”, don’t see Steaua able to go down the sentimental road with this guy and get him to sign another deal. Looking at times laid back, lacking intensity and passion, Tatarusanu will surely take this opportunity to leave and having a national team regular up for grabs (his best years are yet to come) should be tempting enough for some decent clubs from abroad, even though we all agree that we’re not talking about a really good national team, in this case… :) Good keeper, experienced, tested at all levels, Tatarusanu will probably stay with Steaua until June, unless there will be some decent money on the table in January.
Right Back: Alexandru Matel
It was a difficult choice for this position, considering that Petrolul’s Jean Sony Alcenat is in a similar situation and the Haiti international is, by far, the best attacking right back in the league. Matel is younger, though, a regular in Romania’s senior team and has put behind an injury that halted his development for a while. He’s just as good at the back as he is when going forward and, although he’ll probably never reach a top level, has a tempting package to sell at a discounted price. He’ll need a good offer though, considering that Astra’s owner is reacher than Steaua’s and (still) a free man, pushing his club towards the first trophy…
Central defender: Felice Piccolo
Club: CFR Cluj
Not a fan of the Italian centre-back, but you know what you get with this guy: sound tactical knowledge, a good professional approach, no nonsense style of defending. If you want a bit of pace, some quality on the ball and more hunger to impress, you’d have to look elswhere.
Central defender: Dragos Grigore
A solution for Romania’s national team. Always Dinamo’s alternative for wearing the arm band. Never a central defender to put together a string of eye catching performances, but, in truth, he’ll rarely disappoint either. Reliable might be the right word to describe this quiet, honest defender, and I would have seen him too shy to move away for the Bucharest side. Luckily for him, Dinamo is refusing to pay tempting salaries under the new management, so anything at all that might come from abroad through his agent will look too good to turn down…
Left Back: Guilherme Sitya Haubert
We might be talking for the best left back in Liga 1 and – even though there’s an obvious lack of quality on this position – this guy should have no problems finding another club and a bigger salary. Can’t see Petrolul holding on to the small Brazilian who pushes forward at ease and brings quality upfront for 90 minutes, considering that they’ll be wasting their money on a player with no future, like Adrian Mutu, so the club that already got Guilherme’s CV (his agent has been busy, trust me) and has been impressed might find it easy to get a deal done.
It’s hard to believe that Steaua allowed this to happen, but there’s a big chance that the captain will admit, just like Tatarusanu, that it’s a rare occasion (probably the last) to move abroad to a decent club and on a better wage. Bourceanu looks passionate, dedicated, playing with his heart even against a third division club in the Romanian club, but I often had the impression that his leadership was a bit faked. His instructions and gestures looked good on camera, but watching his colleagues, I have to say I’ve rarely seen them impressed or inspired. Nevertheless, we are talking about an aggressive, hard working, no nonsense pitbull, who did improve at Steaua, but not that much to get the attention of a good, ambitious clubs from an important European league. He should have quite a number of offers, but is he really as confident as he tries to look? I’d put a dollar on him taking up Steaua’s generous offer to extend… :)
Defensive midfielder: Gabriel Giurgiu
Club: Otelul Galati
He had his chance to get more money and see what’s out there, beyond Liga 1’s borders, but for some reason Giurgiu returned quickly from Rubin Kazan. A regular for Otelul Galati, helping the club write history and win the league under Dorinel Munteanu’s command, Giurgiu is a decent option for a club looking for an experienced hard working midfielder, who can play box to box if asked, who can still play at his best for a couple of years.
Right winger: Laurentiu Iorga
Club: Otelul Galati
One of the players I enjoyed watching a few years ago, Iorga was quite often linked with Steaua, but Otelul kept asking for the moon. In truth, his development stalled and in my opinion he’s playing below his potential. Definitely needs to move away from the club he served since 2007. He’s quick, suited for a counter-attacking team and, with some guidance, should be able to chip in more than 5 goals a season in the right team and the right league…
When the Portuguese attacking midfielder scored a hattrick against Braga in the Champions League, CFR’s owner probably congratulated the management for this shrewd signing. Now, in theory, there should be a more tense atmosphere in Cluj, with the player able to move on a free transfer next summer. In theory… In truth, the player has some consistency problems and never managed to influence games that didn’t seem exciting enough and, when the few top games from Liga 1 came, he was just as bad as the team that seems unable to get back to winning ways…
Left winger: Lucian Sanmartean
Club: FC Vaslui
Oldest guy in the team, lacking hunger, but surely desperate to move away from Vaslui. He’s probably the only skipper in the world resented and criticized by the club’s owner almost on a weekly basis. Apart from all that, Sanmartean IS the best dribbler in Liga 1, a gifted winger who can break the lines and decide games, a player I would like to see playing against his current club. Unfortunately, Vaslui is no longer among the “elite”, so the former Panathinaikos player can only hope and look for an exotic, well-paid last stop in a career that could have been great, but ends up just average. Such a shame, really…
Striker: Thaer Bawab
Club: Gaz Metan Medias
Have to say that Liga 1 lacks quality strikers, so it’s hard to find a good one, especially on a free, but Bawab has something hard to find around here: the ability to take out his direct opponent using both pace and skill. He scored 10 goals in the previous season and rarely played in this one, scoring just once. Can play upfront alone or supporting the main striker and, could be a decent rotation player, but I can’t see a Romanian club – better than Gaz Metan – interested in his services…
His name is George Galamaz and is Unirea Urziceni’s skipper, the leader of one of the best organized defenses in the past two seasons. The 29 years old has been playing for the reigning champions since February 2007 and has recently stated that he will move in the summer, on a free transfer, after Unirea failed to come up with an interesting proposal. This is a blow for Unirea Urziceni, as the club will lose for free a top player and a solid professional, but in my opinion also a sign that the good days are over and that this small team will return to mediocrity very, very soon…
Who’s after Galamaz? Pretty much every Romanian club with ambition, but I believe that the player will move abroad starting next season. The question is: is there a club wise enough to take advantage of his services in the next two-three years and tempt him with a sporting challenge that will make him think twice about the prospect of joining Dan Petrescu and Gigel Bucur in the Russian second division, at Kuban Krasnodar, just for the money?
- Steaua’s centre-forward Pantelis Kapetanos (26) has earned his first call up to the Greek national team, for the friendly against Senegal, scheduled on the 3rd of March. Not the most eye-catching forward in the league, Kapetanos impressed in the first half of season and proved a vital player and a clinical finisher for Steaua, scoring 9 goals in 11 starts for the red and blue outfit.
- Not 100% fit after his back injury that forced him to lose completely the first half of season in Romania, FC Timisoara’s centre forward Dejan Rusic (27) missed out on a transfer to Olimpija Ljubljana.
- Joao Paulo Pinto Ribeiro (29) has been declared a free player by the Professional League and the striker who had a terrible scoring record at Rapid (3 goals in 40 matches!) is free to sign with Leixoes.
- Steaua Bucharest presents Florentin Matei (17) as one of the club’s hottest prospects. Club owner Gigi Becali says that the kid has a bright future at the Bucharest club, but, at this age, the skilled attacking midfielder isn’t getting any space to accelerate his development, not even in Steaua’s reserve team, which is playing in the Romanian second division…
Former Steaua striker Valentin Badea was released by Universitatea Craiova, although he had signed in the summer a three years long contract. Badea (27) featured in 13 matches this season, but started only three of them, scoring two goals in the process. Badea looked very promising a few years ago – best season for Steaua was 2006/2007, when he scored 13 goals in the first division – but since then he has struggled to find the same form and was sent on loan to Greece and even China, arriving in Craiova as a free player, the same way he leaves now in search of a new club.
Alongside goalkeeper Nuno Claro (33), Italian coach Andrea Mandorlini has included on his black list the following players: Dario Flores (25, central defender from Urugay), Andre Filipe Leao (24, central defensive midfielder from Portugal) and Diego Ruiz (29, centre forward from Argentina – in picture). They’ve been offered on loan to Unirea Alba Iulia, but refused to go there. The presence of Ruiz (who spent the first half of season in Turkey, on loan at Kasimpasa) on the list is somehow surprising, as it comes a day after club owner Arpad Paszkany said that he’d prefer Ruiz to Yssouf Kone, as the Argentinian has been a more prolific scorer.
CFR also officially released on a free transfer experienced winger Bogdan Mara (32), who’s wanted not just by Steaua and Dinamo, but also says that he has offers from Russia and Greece.
The Portuguese goalkeeper was informed that he won’t be travelling with the team to the training camp from Antalya and is free to find himself another club.
Nuno Claro Simoes Coimbra (33) came to Romania in 2007 and gave his best to win a place in a team that lacked a clear No. 1 in goal, but failed to impose as a key player and looked comfortable in the rotation system based on the form and mistakes of the three-four keepers CFR had on their roster.
Nuno Claro collected 38 appearances in the league, during the two and a half seasons spent in Romania and, during the current European campaign, featured against FC Kobenhavn (twice), PSV Eindhoven and Sparta Praha (twice).