Winter mercato in Romania: the Bucharest clubs release high earners, those from Cluj have money to spend
The huge financial problems from Liga I have made most of the clubs look & act normal this winter, not only in their refusal to enter bidding contests and pay high transfer fees, but also in their reluctance to bring in a high number of players during this mercato window. The main concern is getting the wage budgets under control and mainly the Bucharest clubs are releasing some top players without a second thought. Steaua already parted ways with the Bulgarian utility man Angelov, who was earning 250.000 Euros/season, and is looking to offload a prolific front man like Kapetanos (who had a ratio of a goal scored every two games and also featured in the World Cup, last summer!) for the same reason. Dinamo cleared an important debt with former shareholder Florian Walter (now the owner of Universitatea Cluj) by sending there probably the most talented attacking midfielder in Liga I, Adrian Cristea, with other big names like Florin Bratu and Ousmane N’Doye already out the door. Rapid’s board looks more experienced and balanced, though, considering it’s still early to release the un-wanted players, a strategy that could produce some results in the coming weeks.
A different situation can be seen in Cluj, where CFR and Universitatea have played a mercato derby, signing a few players each, in attempts not really to save their current campaigns, but more to build for the future. The champions have a long list of players that will not travel for the team’s training camps and have been instructed to find new clubs and the names are impressive: the former Rosenborg striker Yssouf Kone, by far the highest earner in Liga I, the right back Tony, who really helped the club win its’ last seven trophies, plus Alcantara, Sforzini, Peskovic and Anselmo Ramon. They didn’t waste any time and already secured the right flank with the experienced Maftei, from Unirea Urziceni, but also bought the in-form Nicoara, from newly promoted Victoria Branesti, a 23 years old left sided midfielder. Their other two signings are rather strange though, as Homei (23, right back) and Minca (26, goalkeeper) still need to prove themselves, in spite of a quite long time spent at this level…
It was nice to see Universitatea continue its’ ambitious project (there’s also a new stadium, Cluj Arena, under construction in Cluj) and the team looks stronger in almost every compartment: former NT keeper Marius Popa has signed from Pandurii, while Aburdan (Steaua) and Cristea (Dinamo) add quality and experience in defense and midfield, being the type of players that you’d expect to see playing for top six teams, not move to one currently placed just above relegation zone.
Still, in spite of a few clubs moving on the market, the fact that top targets like Wesley (FC Vaslui), Eric de Oliveira (Gaz Metan), Ribeiro Moraes (Gloria Bistrita), Cornel Rapa (Otelul Galati) or Gabriel Matei (Pandurii) are considered too expensive at the moment should do well to an always inflated market. Not long ago 50% of Torje (Dinamo) or Tanase (Steaua) was bought for millions, an approach that could have lead to losses even if the players had moved to better leagues from abroad, not better clubs from Romania, a country full of teams lead by excellent managers. Experts in buying high and selling low…
Of all the top clubs, only two will attack the next season with the same coach. Mandorlini‘s double with CFR Cluj and Levy‘s abilty to continue Dan Petrescu’s outstading work for Unirea Urziceni offered them the chance to stay put and enjoy the results of the previous campaign.
In a previous post, I had anticipated an agitated summer in this field, but my expectations were exceeded by the decision of two coaches that could have stayed: Sabau (FC Timisoara) and Lacatus (FC Vaslui), both leaving their clubs for personal reasons; Sabau - for his inability to connect with Timisoara’s football-loving fans, Lacatus - following the disappointing ending of a solid season.
With so many ambitious clubs looking for good coaches, it’s been more interesting looking for the moves in this area, rather than “buying” the rumors sold on a daily basis by the sporting newspapers regarding the players that might come to Romania this summer. Dinamo went for their old player and coach (although he’s still quite young), Ioan Andone, who was replaced at Rapid by the former Gloria Bistrita manager, Marius Sumudica. Sumudica, an icon in Giulesti, will get a lot of help by Rapid’s new and old president, Dinu Gheorghe. With Steaua still pushing for a deal with Victor Piturca, who, for the past two or three weeks, has arranged transfers and even decided who will be the club’s president!, FC Vaslui was the club that managed to go for something new and very exciting indeed: a staff lead by Lopez Caro, who had the chance to work with the likes of Guti and Zidane and now will try to teach Burdujan that football is a team’s sport and that it’s okay to pass the ball every once in a while, even if the game is indeed decided by goals.
If the move becomes official today, as announced, Vaslui’s owner, Adrian Porumboiu, shows once again that he cares about his investment in football and that he knows very well what he has to do in order to continue the impressive development of his club. He keeps going forward, while “the big guns” from Bucharest are chasing their tales, looking back at their last moments of triumph and hiring the guys that managed to deliver…
- As the transfer window in Romania closes today , reports suggest that Dinamo is pushing for a surprising and very late move, announcing that an agreement has been reached with Modibo Diakite (22) from Lazio. Still, this looks like pure speculation, as it is based on the good understanding between the two clubs, who made a good deal with Stefan Radu (23) back in 2008, and the fact that coach Edy Reja announced the player what he already knew – that he’s just a backup solution.
Rapid seems to have given up the attempts to sign Dacian Varga (25), the winger that left a good impression in the Champions League with Unirea Urziceni and who’s now back at his club, Sportul Studentesc, in the second division. The negotiation stopped, as club owner Vasile Siman wanted to include Tiberiu Balan (29) in the loan deal that would have forced Rapid to pay 500.000 EUR until the end of the season.
- Steaua Bucharest will cut the technical staff’s wages with 50% starting next March, in another attempt to reduce the wage bill at the club. The only one who escapes this measure is head coach Mihai Stoichita, who earns 120.000 EUR per season. Right now, his assitants are getting 3.000 EUR per month, the highest paid assistant manager in Romania being Alin Minteuan, from CFR Cluj. Read more…
- Steaua is having some trouble completing the transfers of Stelios Parpas (24, central defender from AEL) and Gora Tall (24, central defender from APOP). Sporting director Basarab Panduru went to Cyprus to close the deals, but reported increased demands from both club players. Steaua’s owner Gigi Becali is confident as always that everything will go smoothly, as he’s prepared to chip in and satisfy everyone, but as a backup plan, the Bucharest side is keeping tabs on the experienced centre back Andrius Skerla (32, Lithuanian, from Jagiellonia) and the unattached Michael Umana (27, national team regular for Costa Rica), who apparently refused the invitation to a trial.
- Leonardo Henrique Veloso (22) has become a target for Dinamo Bucharest. The Romanian club is looking at two options: buying the Brazilian defender right now, if Willem II accepts a reasonable deal, or complete the move in the summer, when the player will run out of contract with the Dutch side. Leonardo is an attacking full back, who collected to far 40 macthes in the Eredivisie, for Willem II.
- FC Timisoara is trying to fill the hole left by Gigel Bucur’s departure to Russia , by signing Jan Kozak (29). A regular and the vice-captain of Slovakia’s national team, Kozak could have arrived earlier in Romania, as he was negotiating with FC Brasov, but the club pulled out after coach Viorel Moldovan decided that he has the second striker position well covered. Timisoara is tempted by the low transfer fee announced by Slovan Bratislava, 100.000 EUR, and the players demands (200.000 EUR for a contract until June 2011). Update: Kozak passed today the medical exam and is officially a FC Timisoara player.
- Giedrius Arlauskis (22) is a transfer target for FC Sevilla, a team that battled with Unirea Urziceni, in the Champions League. The very promising Lithuanian goalie was bought for around 150.000 EUR back in 2008, is among the three best players on this position in the country and should turn out an excellent deal for Unirea in the summer, when Sevilla and other interested foreign clubs are expected to make a move for the keeper.