He was meant to be the next big thing. After Hagi, obviously, and following the recent on-the-pitch footsteps of Adrian Mutu. He was not, failing badly in Italy and looking completely lost after the return from Serie A, where he was too poor to play, to Liga I, where he thought that he was way too good. Well, at 27, he’s the leading goalscorer, with 16 goals, and the man who keeps FC Timisoara in the title race. Still promising, right?
Born in Constanta, where Hagi, The King, had stepped into this world with his magical left foot, with the same ethnical roots (luckily, we don’t have only gypsies over here), Zicu was immediately spotted by the same guys that stood beside Gica in his playing career: the Becali brothers.
Ioan “Giovani” Becali had moved Adrian Mutu to Italy, back in 2000, convincing Massimo Moratti to invest heavily in a forward that was a goalscoring machine for Dinamo – the opposition was usually very kind with the Red Dogs’ forwards back then, as always! – and had enough influence to present Zicu to Inter’s owner at a very young age and with no real background.
In 2003, Ianis went to Milano, but left the impression that he was there to protect his valuable ankles, an attitude he simply failed to shake-off since then, no matter the name of his club, the importance of a game or the fans’ abuse, who, after his latest return to Dinamo, turned against the talented attacking midfielder.
Zicu looked again like a football player only at his third consecutive loan spell, in Rapid’s shirt, but Dinamo was the club he signed for in 2007, after Inter lost enough money and an incredible amount of patience. Three years of torment followed and he fell completely out of favor with Dinamo’s dismayed fans, who had every reason, at that time, to ask for a change of approach. He went asking for a move away and Timisoara (who’s a bitter rival, in the stands, but a good partner when it comes to transfers) stepped up and invested half of million euros, winning the race for his signature with Rapid.
Money very well spent by the Viola, who are now leading the standings, with eight rounds to go, and have in Zicu the player that makes the difference. With 16 goals in 21 appearances, he’s the best goalscorer in a league that was at risk to award the golden boot award to Bogdan Stancu, the striker who left to Galatasaray in the winter break. He is also responsible for Timisoara’s fantastic ability to come from behind: Dusan Uhrin’s men have done it an amazing 15 times this season and are currently undefeated, after 26 matches, with 13 wins and 13 draws in their account.
What’s interesting and also quite hard to explain is that Zicu’s attitude on the pitch hasn’t changed. He’s the same creative player looking for the fancy touch and desperate to avoid contact, plays in the same favorite role, on the left side of the attack, with absolutely no interest to help in defense, and for a team that feels the pressure to deliver results, given the fantastic support this club has when playing at home. Not to mention that, on a personal level, he’s not doing great either, losing his beloved mother two months ago, a moment that he wants to remind after each goal scored.
Nobody, really, saw this coming. A player who was only used to whine is now showing the properties of a good wine. But maybe this is where Zicu lived up to the initial expectations: he’s the sort of footballer able to surprise you, after all…
A more discrete presence on the market than in the past, Timisoara managed to sign three players that were going to play an important part in the first half of the season: Ovidiu Burca, on a free transfer, Helder, on loan from Nancy, and the former Inter Milan signing (back in the days when his huge potential had enough years ahead to be fulfilled), Ianis Zicu. The results were better than ever, with the team finishing the year unbeaten, even after a quite long spell under the command of an unexperienced coach like Cosmin Contra, and this strategy offered the chance to shine to players like Axente or Scutaru, talented youngsters bought a few years ago, who were used to be sent on loan or kept on the bench.
Best transfer Read more…
- Gaz Metan Medias – Gloria Bistrita 2-1 (Parvulescu 21, Akaki 56 / Szukala 84)
- Universitatea Craiova – Otelul Galati 0-1 (S. Ilie 23)
- Pandurii – FCM Targu Mures 4-1 (Voiculet 35 pen, Bacila 44, Pintilii 56 pen, 66 / L. Munteanu 80 pen)
- Astra Ploiesti – FC Brasov 3-0 (Paulinho 25 pen, Seto 50, Fatai 90)
- Poli Timisoara – FC Vaslui 2-1 (Zicu 45 pen, Goga 69 / Papp 32)
- Sportul Studentesc – Universitatea Cluj 2-0 (T. Balan 21, Varga 75 pen)
- CFR Cluj – Dinamo 1-0 (Bjelanovic 25)
- Victoria Branesti – Unirea Urziceni 4-1 (Olariu 45 pen, 75 pen, Simion 70, C. Coman 86 / Semedo 23)
- Rapid – Steaua 0-0
Very discrete on the transfer market until now – after years of investments that haven’t brought the expected trophies, FC Timisoara re-signed Hristu Chiacu from Dinamo, who will come on loan for another season. The attacking midfielder could be followed by a player of a similar profile from the same club. Ianis Zicu, who was once under contract with Internazionale Milano and is out of favor at the Bucharest club, due to his mediocre performances and terrible attitude, has been spotted in Timisoara, where he will negotiate a deal with the Viola outfit.
On another note, the former Energie Cottbus defender Ovidiu Burca, currently a free player, has rejected “a tempting offer” from Timisoara, stating that he feels there’s an unstable environment in Romanian football. I’ll translate that for those interested: “FC Timisoara just had its accounts blocked, the club owner says at least once a week that he’s not motivated anymore to invest in the team and is at war with the local authorities”.
- Ianis Zicu (26) could follow the recently transferred Gigel Bucur (29) to Kuban Krasnodar. The talented, but very inconsistent attacking midfielder has been a target for coach Dan Petrescu in the past, who would have to pay under one million euro to complete the deal. Zicu’s career looked very promising at one point, as Internazionale Milano signed him in 2004, but that was a deal pushed all the way by his agent, Ioan Giovani Becali, who probably had some sort of agreement with Massimo Moratti, with bigger things at stake than just this transfer…
- Dinamo’s coach Cornel Talnar was impressed by Leonardo Henrique Veloso (22) and asked the board to offer the Brazilian a deal. The left sided defender played only one friendly game for the Red Dogs, who now look ready to offer him a contract until the summer, with the option to extend for three more years!
- Steaua seems to have agreed to sign three players, but only one deal has some sort of confirmation so far: the Bulgarian centre-back Zhivko Zhelev agreed to a 10.000 EUR/month contract and will leave his current club, Otelul Galati. In exchange, Steaua will send to Galati the talented left midfielder Razvan Ochirosii (who was “snatched” from the same club by Mihai Stoica, now at Unirea Urziceni), one of the hottest prospects a few years ago, but who never made it among the seniors at Steaua. Otelul gets rid of a problem and also gets 50% of a talented 20 years old. Good deal!
- The other two Steaua targets: Bulgarian striker Hristo Yovov and Rwanda central defender Edwin Ouon.
- Adrian Cristea (attacking midfielder, Dinamo, 26 years old) has been offered to Kuban Krasnodar for 1 mil. EUR. This is no surprise, as Dan Petrescu, the new manager, has been given complete control over transfers and already announced that will try to sign 5 or 6 Romanian players. Cristea is definitely among the most talented, but has an atitude problem and is a gamble Petrescu won’t make. Same situation with Ianis Zicu (attacking midfielder, Dinamo, 26 years old), although Petrescu already tried to sign him when he was coaching Unirea Urziceni, so has better chances. Anyway, it’s going to be a very good month for agents Victor and Ioan “Giovani” Becali .
- Vladimir Bozovic (left back/left midfielder, Rapid, 28 years old) is a target for a French first division outfit, according to his agent, Zvonko Milojkovic. Rapid is in deep financial trouble and owner George Copos has been trying to sell the club (the German businessman Lutz Stache was the last person interested in such a deal), so raising money from transfers looks like the only option right now. Rapid paid 200.000 for his transfer from OFK Belgrade in 2007, but won’t settle for anything below 1 mil. EUR.
- In case Gigel Bucur (striker, FC Timisoara, 29 years old) leaves to club – an offer from Kuban is expected – the Viola outfit will try to sign the Argentinian Pablo Osvaldo Vazquez (centre forward, Strongest, 27 years old).
- The talented Gheorghe Grozav (forward, Unirea Alba Iulia, 19 years old) is very close to a deal with Standard Liege, where he went on trial last summer and left a good impression. The transfer fee: 300.000 EUR