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Steaua signs Szukala, but Rapid, Petrolul and FC Vaslui add important players as well!

August 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Four rounds gone in Romania and a lot of clubs keep on working on their rosters. A sign of ambition, but also of some average work done during the summer, considering that all the moves presented below could have been done in the same conditions even a couple of months ago.

Steaua, who decided to release the once highly rated Florin Costea, bought Lukasz Szukala, a 28 years old central defender, who comes for a reported fee of 0.5 million Euros. The player was requested by Laurentiu Reghecampf (he was the one who brought him to Romania from Germany’s lower leagues back in 2010) and comes after two full seasons for Gloria Bistrita and Universitatea Cluj and two full… matches played for Petrolul.

The deal was supposed to be more complex, as Steaua requested Adrian Cristea as well, admitting to a mistake signaled a while ago: Reghecampf needs a number 10 in his ideal tactical setup and it was a mistake to allow Mihai Radut to move on loan to Pandurii. Radut who now has 3 goals in 3 matches played under the excellent coach Petre Grigoras. But that’s another story…

Released by Steaua, Geraldo Alves signed a two years long contract with Petrolul.

Petrolul not only resisted the temptation to sell Cristea (helped by some pressure quickly applied by the ambitious fans!), but also used some of the money received for Szukala to sign Geraldo Alves. A 32 years old central defender who was released by… Steaua this summer after two very good seasons and 54 appearances for the red and blue outfit. Another mistake made by the club’s management, heavily influenced by the vocal owner Gigi Becali, as the young couple Chiriches-Gardos lacks consistency and good backup (what a surprise!).

Petrolul makes a very good signing, in spite of the player’s age, considering the wolves’ ambition to challenge at least for the European places this season, and tomorrow there will be a hot game versus Rapid, who had a two weeks break and went on a mini training camp to solve some internal issues. The Bucharest side also signed a striker, Marius Bilasco, who was never a top scorer (12 goals for Unirea Urziceni in the title winning season 2009/2010) and comes after a terrible period, poor decisions getting him to clubs like Tianjin Teda or Energie Cottbus, where he rarely played. Bilasco is the type of useful centre-forward though and should provide good competition for Blaze Ilijoski, who featured in 6 games since his transfer from FC Brasov, scoring just once.

Rapid missed out on two targets though, as Dacian Varga and Costin Curelea will move from Sportul Studentesc to FC Vaslui. On loan once again, as Vasile Siman, the club’s owner, has a habit of requesting huge transfer fees for his players. Varga is a left winger who can also feature on the right and has an interesting story, playing twice on loan for Kuban Krasnodar (and not bad at all, I might add), yet he always had to return to the club that relegated now to the second division. Curelea is also considered one of the good Romanian strikers, yet none of the top clubs managed to come up with a good enough offer for Siman in the past three years. He’s now 28 and for the first time moves away from Sportul Studentesc, where he scored 77 goals in 242 matches played in the first & second league…

 

Chiriches, the Romanian version of Thiago Silva?

June 13, 2012 2 comments

Vlad Chiriches, ready for the big stage already?

“I said no to a written offer of 6 million Euros”, said a cocky Gigi Becali a week ago, so you can imagine the prices he’ll dream of and offer to the Romanian media now that Vlad Chiriches, the 22 years old centre-back, appeared on Milan’s radar. But even Becali’s fantasies shouldn’t be a problem if the Italians will be looking for Thiago Silva’s replacement, considering the huge transfer fee paid by PSG for the unavailable Brazilian. The question is: can Chiriches step in and do the job of one of the finest central defenders in the world?

Let’s have a look at the stats: he’s got 68 appearances in Liga I – not the most challenging in Europe – and only 29 of them for a club that challenged for the title (and lost). To compare, Udinese’s Gabriel Torje had collected 125 matches in the top flight by the age of 21, before moving to Serie A (and failing to impress in the first season). Ignored most of the time by Romania’s youth national teams, he had recently earned his place in the senior team, collecting 6 caps under two different coaches. Ok, he’ll be playing there for many years to come, but apart from these matches he can only add to his international experience 2 other games played with Steaua in the Europa League.

Now let’s have a look at the player. If his name came up in Milan’s search for Silva’s replacement, it’s because he’s got a good age and is the type of ball-playing centre-back that can solve difficult situations with elegance and also start the build-up from the back. And he’s from Romania and he shouldn’t be that expensive. The truth is, Chiriches has a technical skill that’s beyond doubt and has determined different coaches to use him with confidence both as right back and defensive midfielder, but his place is at the heart of the back four. He’s mature and assured and has impressed with his response to the biggest challenges of his short, but promising career, enjoying the big matches and displaying an impressive confidence against stronger and better opponents. In my opinion, he still needs to gain in strength and he can have problems against very quick strikers in the first five meters, but usually his positioning sense and ability to read the game avoid embarrassing situations. He’ll use both feet, which is a big plus, and is good, but not perfect in the air, and might also have a fight on his hands while playing against a big fellow, that’s why the intense work in the gym is a must, in order to become a more commanding figure at the back.

Now that I’ve offered a positive response to the question from the title, we can only ask ourselves if a Romanian version is enough for Milan and what’s the latest figure in Becali’s mind: 10, 15 million Euros? It’s also interesting to note that Cosmin Contra recommended Chiriches to Getafe recently. Contra who played for Milan as well…

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  • December mercato in Romania. The moves and the talks

    December 28, 2011 1 comment

    After Chiriches and Chipciu, who have already joined the club, Steaua has reached an agreement with FC Vaslui for Wesley’s transfer, but the Brazilian ace is not in a hurry to leave his current club, although the owner, Adrian Porumboiu, is sending some disturbing messages.

    In a period expected for almost a year, when the transfer ban should finally be lifted, instead of a spending spree, Porumboiu keeps underlining his decision to retire next summer, looking eager to offload the highest earners and the best players, in order to reduce the costs to a minimum until the moment when he’ll be passing on the club to the local authorities. Wesley has two more years on his current deal – impressive by our standards – and is waiting for Gigi Becali to at least match the wages in order to complete what could be the hit of the winter mercato in Romania.

    With the all time best foreign scorer in Liga I ineligible for the Europa League matches, it’s obvious that Steaua will try to push for the title in 2012, and the red and blue outfit is getting some positive signals from league leaders, Dinamo, who are having a hard time keeping Marius Niculae from nailing a last big contract abroad. In fact, the Top 3 teams (Dinamo, CFR Cluj and Rapid) are yet to make a move, with Universitatea Cluj, currently in 7th place, getting two important additions already.

    Goalkeeper Mircea Bornescu – impressive in the handful of matches played for Petrolul, after his failed attempt to play in the Greek SuperLeague – and central defender George Galamaz – who left Steaua on a free transfer – will add experience and further strengthen a team that was looking good on paper anyway before the start of the season, but failed to impress in the league, staying quite far from the European places.

    In the rumors section, we have Dinamo looking to sign Paul Parvulescu from Gaz Metan (they’ve been trying to do it for two years now…), but also Radu Barbu, a former U21 national team player who was released on a free transfer by… Petrolul, due to his below par performances. A name everyone uses when it comes to big clubs in need of a good striker is Costin Curelea, captain of Sportul Studentesc, who scored 3 goals for the team placed third from bottom.

    Steaua seems to have some problems selling Iasmin Latovlevici for around 1 million Euros, heavily linked with Saint-Etienne by the Romanian media for a couple of weeks, and are yet to make a move regarding the Costea brothers, who are unsettled and unsettling for the dressing room. I expect Rapid to offload a few players, with Cassio Vargas, Iulian Apostol and Glauber Berti among the favorites, but they definitely need at least one good front man. There are some similar signals coming from Otelul Galati, with the president Marius Stan saying that they could have Unirea Urziceni’s faith. Obviously, that’s too much and it means that the club is preparing the fans for some important sales.

    There haven’t been any rumors lately, but with Steaua in big need of a right back and Otelul willing to cash in on the best players, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cornel Rapa, half of year ago looking good enough for the senior national team, completing the Bucharest side’s impressive transfer activity…

    Gabriel Torje looks to have found his next club: Udinese!

    August 21, 2011 2 comments

    Gabriel Torje, a little winger with a big potential. Off he goes!

    The news broke after Dinamo’s 2-0 win away at Sportul Studentesc, a game Gabriel Torje wasn’t able to finish, with the words “it’s not serious, felt suffocated” on his lips while taken off the pitch by Dinamo’s worried medical staff. The young international might have lost his breath while making yet another attempt to impress, but according to prosport.ro and gsp.ro Dinamo finally got a pleasing offer for the player, of 4 or 5 million Euros offered by Udinese. So, risking a physical punishment from the experienced Marius Niculae for playing mostly on his own, looking for goals, Torje might be lucky enough this time to dribble his way out of this, all the way to Italy.

    It might look like an excellent deal for the Bucharest side, who also sold a couple of years ago Stefan Radu to Lazio, for 5,4 mil. E, but it’s not and the Red Dogs were right to invest in the little winger, but wrong to pay initially 2 mil. E to Politehnica Timisoara for only 50% of his transfer rights. With the other half bought for a similar amount and no trophies won while having the player in the team, they can only be proud to have offered Torje the chance to impress, which he obviously did.

    Promoted by Gheorghe Hagi when he was still 16 and dubbed by Timisoara’s fans “Messi from Banat” (Banat is a region in the Western part of the country), Messi, sorry, Torje deserves credit for staying focused on the job, in spite of a couple of delicate moments, which usually happen to every young player that meets the Capital’s nightlife. He kept on improving as a player, getting better and better on and off the ball, which you could notice every once in while, in between the numerous episodes from the past year when he was annoyingly selfish.

    Even so, his record isn’t bery impressing, with 19 goals and 23 assists in 129 matches played for Dinamo in all competitions. He also collected 9 caps in Romania’s senior and often pathetic national team, scoring once. Previously monitorred by Paris Saint Germain, Hamburg, Wolfsburg or Lille, he’s finally off and it’s hard to find a better club than Udinese in promoting such a young player. He might not turn into Messi, but if “I friulani” make him good enough to play alongside Messi, it should be good enough, right?

    PS For any abuse that might follow if tomorrow morning it was just another false press report, please use the above mentioned websites. Thanks! :-)

     

    It’s all in Pantilimon’s hands now – not a bad situation for a goalkeeper, right?

    August 7, 2011 4 comments

    After Bogdan Stancu’s 6 million Euros move to Galatasaray in the previous winter mercato, another Romanian club is involved in a major transfer deal this summer, as Costel Pantilimon moves to Manchester City in a loan deal with an undisclosed buying clause in 2012, depending on his season with the Citizens.

    "Gulliver" gets his shot to make it. Big deal for the big lad, but not necessarily for Politehnica Timisoara too...

    Ok, Stancu’s move was fishy, because he was probably worth half that sum, but we would have not moved a muscle if Pantilimon’s transfer fee/conditions were made public. It was Manchester City, the mercato champions of recent years… The surprise of an undisclosed fee was even bigger, as Politehnica Timisoara was also involved, a club that used to impress with its transparency being partially financed by the city’s local council. Put this two together and add the information that Udinese was ready to sign Pantilimon this summer in a permanent deal and you’ll get the image of a deal that would have made City’s sheik look like they’re running out of money. Or, even worse, start to look a bit cheap!

    Timisoara’s usually vocal owner, Marian Iancu, limited himself to the following announcement: “The club still co-owns the goalkeeper, as we aim to earn as much as possible from his transfer. The longer it takes to complete the deal, the more money we’ll be making and we’re talking in millions.”

    Basically, it is all in the hands of the big lad who was impressing only in size at second division outfit Aerostar Bacau, six years ago. Timisoara’s current number two, Gheorghe Chivorchian, who used to run another club from Bacau, FCM, decided to “splash” 50.000 Euros, at Gheorghe Hagi’s request, but apparently made what now looks like a very costly mistake when negotiating the deal: accepted a 30% sell on clause, which might just be one of the reasons Timisoara makes the transfer to City look so complicated and mysterious.

    The Viola outfit probably got lot less from Manchester than what Udinese was ready to pay upfront, but certainly puts its hopes in Pantilimon’s chances to fulfill his potential at a top club. Problem is, Roberto Mancini doesn’t like to rest his number 1 and a look at the previous season shows that England’s number one played 38 games in the Premier League, but also 8 in the FA Cup and another 9 in a Europa League campaign that would have made Harry Redknapp put the gloves on himself, in an attempt to avoid fatigue and injuries to such a vital member of the squad.

    So, does Pantilimon really have a chance to impress and earn Timisoara more money in his one season loan with an undisclosed buying clause? I guess not, but on a personal level he should definitely benefit, training with the best and entering a regime that will do him more good than 100 more official appearances in Liga I.

    He still needs to improve his ability to deal with high balls, yes, at 2,02 m, Pantilimon has “a short leash” and his focus needs to be a lot better, which is something a bit different than his desire to deliver in the big games – see the excellent performances for Romania on “Parc des Princes” or for Timisoara in the European ties against Shakthar Donetsk and, no coincidence, Manchester City. He wasn’t always convincing for Timisoara in Liga I, which lead to a lost battle with Steaua’s Ciprian Tatarusanu for the number one spot in Romania’s national team in the last year, so this transfer comes at a possibly critical moment of his development. If he goes up or down from here, it’s all up to him, but I reckon the decent/hard working goalie will keep his feet on the ground, the eyes on the ball and catch this big chance, not palm it away.

    Today’s press: Lazio’s Igli Tare comes to Romania to see one last time FC Porto’s Cristian Sapunaru

    • Igli Tare is expected to watch Cristian Sapunaru from the stands in the Romania-Bosnia game, with reports saying that Lazio is willing to pay up to 7 million Euros for Porto’s right back and have prepared an wage of 1 million Euros per season for the player. Sapunaru’s deal with the Dragons will expire in 2013.
    • Dorinel Munteanu has qualified Otelul in the Champions League’s group stage, after winning the title, but is struggling to get the deal he wants from Marius Stan, the club’s president. Munteanu wants 300.000 Euros per season, a sum Otelul isn’t willing to pay, so the coach might be a champion out of contract, this summer.
    • Second place and qualified for the preliminary stages of the Champions League, FC Timisoara finds out today UEFA’s decision. The Viola outfit might lose its licence due to some financial problems that could have been easily solved and, at the same time, not just its place in Europe, but also the one from Liga I!
    • Rapid’s owner, George Copos: “Having again Razvan Lucescu (the current national team coach) on the bench is a beautiful dream”.
    • Cristiano Bergodi is linked with a return to Steaua. After getting the sack for showing the guts to ask Gigi Becali to step out of the team’s dressing room, the Italian’s chances should be slim. Very slim!

    Ribeiro Moraes Junior to Metalurg Donetsk!

    February 11, 2011 1 comment

    Gloria Bistrita’s president admitted that today the two clubs agreed terms and, with the player’s father at the same table – the discussion took place just outside the pitch that hosted today one of Gloria’s friendly matches! – we can say it’s a done deal already. Metalurg will pay 1.2 million Euros, taxes included, and makes this the best ever deal done by the Romanian club, considering that, a year ago, Gloria was paying 20.000 Euros to secure the player’s services! In the meantime, the Brazilian striker produced excellent numbers, with 18 goals scored in 32 appearances, in the two halves of seasons spent in the white and blue outfit, playing for a rather mediocre team.

    Ribeiro Moraes Junior needed just one year to prove that he's too good for this league!

    A complete forward, Ribeiro Moraes Junior has a nice combination of skills, being able to score with both feet, with his head, through well-placed free-kicks. He can link-up play upfront, play as a second striker or even alone upfront. Bistrita’s number 10 looked destined for a move to Steaua this winter, especially after he signed a contract with Ioan Becali, but the Bucharest side never met Gloria’s asking price, trying to bargain and losing, in the end, a very, very good player, at least by this league’s standard.

    It’s an excellent deal for Metalurg, as well, nevermind the paid fee, it should generate good results on the pitch and even some profit, after one or two seasons, and it speaks about the club’s progress, considering that the last forward bought from Romania was the never outstanding Ciprian Tanasa, signed in March 2009, who has a record of 13 goals in 45 matches and turned 30 this year…

    Arsenal, Galatasaray, Liverpool, Napoli, Udinese? No, Traore goes to Kuban Krasnodar!

    February 6, 2011 2 comments

    According to Prosport, the Ivorian forward left CFR’s training camp and went to Spain, to undergo a medical and, unless the problems he had when he took the last test will catch the doctors’ attention, Traore is expected to seal a surprising deal, indeed.

    Linked with a lot of European clubs for more than a year, he was facing another six months in Cluj, where he more than once said and showed with his behaviour that he’s not willing to stay. There was only interest from England and Italy, but the reluctance to splash at least four million Euros was understandable, given the player’s lack of maturity and need for a smaller next step. It seems that both his club and agent felt the same way and everyone agreed to take up on Kuban’s offer: 4 million Euros upfront + 1 million Euros in June + 10% of the player’s next transfer.

    It’s interesting to hear that Dan Petrescu, a coach who knew Traore very well, had nothing to say in this case, according to Ioan Becali, but it makes sense, as SuperDan had been denied the signing of Iulian Apostol, a month ago, even if he was coming as a free player. Knowing Petrescu, even if we’re talking about one of Europe’s hot prospects, I’m quite sure he won’t take this situation lightly and I’m expecting a move away from Krasnodar, at the first opportunity…

    Gaz Metan pushing for a place in Europe: Florin Bratu goes to Medias!

    January 13, 2011 1 comment

    Those who have read my blog know that I have the utmost respect for Gaz Metan’s manager, Cristi Pustai, who did a great job in creating this team from scratch and ensuring a constant progress, turning a second division club into a serious contender for a place in Europe, without spending a lot of money and with the calculated moves you’d expect from a Maths teacher.

    Bratu, 31, will certainly try to prove that he's not finished

    Today, when his club officially presented Florin Bratu, the forward released by Dinamo Bucharest and in-demand not just in Liga I, he might have done the sort of move that could help him finish his project. 31, not exactly in top shape – has tried to regain match fitness in Bulgaria, in the first half of season, after a nasty injury – Bratu boasts enough quality to solve the team’s biggest problem. Without a natural goalscorer since Bud’s transfer to CFR Cluj, Pustai had to rely on Eric de Oliveira, the Brazilian playmaker, who is spending his last season in Medias. Bratu’s arrival, who should fit perfectly into Gaz Metan’s counter-attacking style, should add the much needed extra-dimension and it would be great if the club will have the chance to keep Eric until the end of his loan from Metropolitano, as this team could do a lot more damage in the second half of season.

    Although some say he’s past it, Bratu, who scored 43 goals in 115 Liga I matches, collected 13 caps with the national team and played abroad for Galatasaray, Nantes, Valenciennes and Litex Lovech, could finish his career in style here. Famous for the excellent pace and ability to find the net with placed shots, he should benefit from the excellent work ethic within Gaz Metan’s squad and deliver in the delicate moments, having the experience and the composure to play under pressure. And, hopefully, help this small, but well organized club get a taste of European football next season.

    Advice for CFR Cluj: don’t expect a lot of saved shots, if you’re trying to save money!

    January 10, 2011 3 comments

    The unknown Amadio gets a chance to make a name for himself in Cluj and also have a picture on transfermarkt.de!

    I’ve said it in the summer, when Nuno Claro was the Supercup hero: CFR needs to buy a reliable keeper. A certain Danut Coman was available on a free transfer back then, the sort of experienced goalie with a strong enough personality to step in and deliver for any Liga I club, yet the champions hoped that Stancioiu will not only keep the Portuguese goalie on his toes, but also do a good job when called upon. It should be no surprise to see that this strategy failed, with the two players simply too inconsistent to secure the goal and their mistakes have been so visible that the board has finally come to terms with this reality. Don’t think that they’ve taken the right calls, though! The capture of Mihai Minca – who, for the record, was Coman’s reserve last season – can be considered a decent signing, but also a bet. The 26 years old had a spell at Rapid a couple of years ago and failed to cope with the pressure, something that will be seriously tested in Cluj, where Minca, if he is to deliver in at least one of the next five years, should finally live up to the praise received in 2005 from a certain Walter Zenga

    Right now, he’s just a third keeper who can only hope that those still ahead of him in the pecking order, Nuno Claro and Stancioiu, will be either sold or released in the near future, in order to find some playing time. The imminent signing of a certain Remo Amadio (unknown 23 years old Italian keeper, who only played in the lower leagues!) on a free transfer certainly points in that direction. One that shouldn’t please CFR’s fans, though, given the questionable quality of the selected replacements, with a poor to nonexistent background and absolutely no guarantees that they’ll end up saving some shots in the coming months, not only the club’s transfer budget from January…

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