Either sell high or don’t sell at all – this was Steaua’s approach during the winter mercato, which closed in the top leagues without a concrete move for the highly rated Vlad Chiriches, Cristian Tanase or Raul Rusescu. Becali’s crazy asking prices worked this time in favor of the club that will have the strongest squad in the league and the best position possible to go for the Champions League spot that can be so rewarding, from the financial point of view. CFR Cluj, instead, decided to capitalize on their recent European adventure, and again, it was a wise move. Sell as high as possible, but sell nevertheless! Rafael Bastos, Modou Sougou and Luis Alberto left, a few other regular starters probably just missed out on a move and I am sure CFR regrets not having sold Pantelis Kapetanos, who was signed on a free transfer and has reached a age that will set his market value on a downtrend.
But January was a month that saw a lot of players from Liga I move abroad and I will try to make a short overview of those moves.
Position: Right winger
From: CFR Cluj
To: Olympique Marseille
The OM brand and the transfer fee in region of 4 million Euros make this the deal of the month. Sougou’s excellent pace will definitely help him adjust to the new league, but I wonder if he’ll ever be a consistent performer in a demanding championship and manage the pressure of every day life in such a well supported club – the opposite of CFR, who struggled lately even to sell out their Champions League matches. At 28, he’s there to help and there will be no patience or understanding for a player that has to deliver…
Moving to 1.Bundesliga is a great step for a player who spent a couple of years in Espanyol’s youth setup, but had to return to Romania to get over a long term injury and play senior football on a regular basis. He did it in impressive fashion – one of my favorite players in the league -, but as in other cases this move might find him unprepared. Not because of his skill, but mainly because he still looks a bit below weight and will surely need time & work to be able to compete. Even he’s given credit right away, he cannot go on for 90 minutes and I hope that – in the next few months – he won’t compromise his chance to have a solid 2013/2014 season. Excellent in 1-v-1 duels, he can play anywhere behind the main striker, but has recently surprised by saying that he feels best in a central position, as he made a name for himself starting his runs from the wings.
Position: Attacking midfielder
From: CFR Cluj
To: Al-Nasr Riad
Impressive at times, especially in this season’s Champions League run with CFR Cluj, the Brazilian went for the money and we might not hear much about him in the years to come. Not surprised he struggled to get a chance at a decent European club, he’s been an inconsistent performer in the 2 and a half years spent in Liga I after his arrival from Sporting Braga. A(nother) good deal for CFR, who cashed in over 3 million Euros for a player that came on a free transfer and helped the club do well in the league and on the European stage.
To: Standard Liege
Scoring 4 times in the second round of the current season brought Tucudean in the spotlight and the media presented him as the next big thing. In the following 16 appearances, he managed to find the net only twice more, stats that speak of a striker who is yet to mature into a reliable front man. Coming from a very wealthy family, the 1,87 powerhouse failed to convince at Dinamo, yet he gets his first break of his career with the transfer to Standard Liege. It probably wouldn’t have happened if Standard’s coach wasn’t Mircea Rednic, who thinks that he can get the big guy going. I doubt it, considering that the move to Dinamo from UTA and the chance to become a regular feature in the youth & senior national team failed to motivate him properly. I doubt that a bigger wage will do it…
Rednic swore he wouldn’t sign a player from Petrolul, the club he left to return to Belgium, yet he decided to go for one of the most talented and controversial figures in Romanian football. An authentic number 10, Cristea had everything to make it big, apart from the desire. Signed on loan with an option to secure a good wage for years of quality nightlife , he will probably try to show his class and certainly he was brought along by Rednic in the hope that he will deliver immediately. Might help in a couple of games, but so far never showed any awareness that his playing days are coming to an end.
Under heavy criticism since the start of the season, the Italian coach looks to have finally earned some credit and the quiet atmosphere that comes along with it. It might have been down only to Dinamo’s first winning streak of the season (the Red Dogs only managed a draw in Medias this weekend, after three consecutive wins) but behind this good run of results is a playing style that starts to define a team under construction, with a roster that combines the huge experience of Ionel Danciulescu and Catalin Munteanu and the youth spirit of George Tucudean, Cosmin Matei or Constantin Nica.
Very ugly in the beginning, refusing to play, sitting back and working only to frustrate the opposition, even if it was inferior in terms of squad quality and club size, Dinamo was heavily contested. Supported only by the board and a part of the fans, but at war with the influential agent Victor Becali and most of the journalists, Bonetti deserves credit for his consistency and the hidden work that lead to a surprising transformation of a team that now is quite difficult to play against. The more you try to hurt it, the bigger chances you’ll be the one to suffer, by the quick reaction of a tight unit able to unleash deadly counters. Lacking enough attacking flair and worried about a rather young defense which lost its pillar, Cosmin Moti, to Ludogorets this summer, Bonetti knew that he would have struggled to create a solid offensive team, so he started his work from the back. Using his first matches to put this to the test, he managed to calibrate his team in a matter of weeks, being lucky enough to get some points along the way (including a lucky last minute win against Petrolul). The climax was the impressive display against the revelation Pandurii, a team able to create – and waste – a ton of chances, but which allows you to do the same, if you can absorb this sort of pressure. And Dinamo certainly can, an ability that might see the team struggling to break weak, defensive opposition, but offer an advantage in the derbies that can decide, in the end, who deserves to be up there and who doesn’t.
Undefeated for almost a month now, Dinamo sits now in 5th place with 18 points and looks prepared to earn a European spot this season without glamorous displays, but with determination and hard work. And, comparing to the previous seasons, marked by an unrealistic, cocky approach, this time a place in the top five Romanian clubs will look like an achievement, not as a failure.
* foto from gsp.ro
- FC Brasov – CS Severin 2-1 (Buga 2, I. Popa 83 / Thomas 56)
- Ceahlaul – CFR Cluj 2-2 (Ichim 28, Tolimir 66 / Kapetanos 20, Maftei 76)
- Gaz Metan Medias – Pandurii Targu Jiu 0-2 (Nistor 15, Ibeh 70)
- Astra Ploiesti – Steaua 3-4 (Enache 12, 38, J. Morais 47 / Tanase 19, Martinovic 22, Rusescu 62, Rocha 67)
- FC Vaslui – Petrolul 3-0 (Sanmartean 22, Sburlea 70, M. Niculae 84)
- Universitatea Cluj – Gloria Bistrita 1-0 (Szilagyi 80)
- Dinamo – CSMS Iasi 5-2 (Tucudean 13, 22, 47, 49, Rus 50 / Onofras 27, Vladu 83)
- Concordia Chiajna – Viitorul Constanta 1-1 (Welington 53 / G. Iancu 29)
- Otelul Galati – Rapid 1-1 (Viglianti 27 / N. Grigore 74)
- Timisoara ended all speculation and presented the former Red Star Belgrade coach Vladimir Petrovic as Ioan Ovidiu Sabau’s successor, in spite of all the rumors that involved the ex-trainer of CFR Cluj, Maurizio Trombetta. The 54 years old will be unveiled on Wednesday, in a press conference, but he already presented some of his plans, settled during the three rounds of talks with Daniel Stanciu, Timisoara’s team manager: he’ll have around six months to adjust, know the players and implement the ideas that should lead the Viola club to bigger success than the 3rd place occupied at the end of last season, but he obviously stated that he hopes to make the team play offensive, attractive and successful football even sooner.
- Dinamo Bucharest made an interesting signing, after the promising keeper Cristian Balgradean agreed to sign a five years long deal with teh Red Dogs. The goalie has big chances to be followed by a former colleague from UTA, George Tucudean. The U19 national team centre forward asked for a few days to think things through, as, in spite of Bratu’s loan to Lovech, the competition upfront is still very tough and he’ll probably end up playing for the reserves… Read more…