- Rapid continues to surprise with its aggressive presence on the transfer market, given the financial status of the club. The latest ambitious target for the Bucharest side is getting back Cristian Sapunaru (25), from FC Porto. The right back, who was sold in Portugal in the summer of 2008 and collected so far 22 matches in the Liga Sagres, would take this opportunity in case he will be suspended for hitting a steward after the match against Benfica.
- The Slovakian defender Marian Cisovsky (30) has returned to full fitness after four months spent on the sidelines. Cisovsky, who had played in 27 matches and scored three goals in his first season in Romania, had suffered a knee injury in the Champions League qualifying match against VFB Stuttgart. After Milos Brezinsky (25), he’s the second important defensive player that returns from a long injury and, with the adition of Cosmin Contra, coach Ioan Ovidiu Sabau has every reason to look forward to the second half of season, in which the Viola outfit will be pushing for the title.
- Former Romanian international and Barcelona captain, Gheorghe “Gica” Popescu, intends to invest in a second football academy, in Targoviste. He already has one located just outside Craiova, spread over 50.000 square meters, which produced a number of valuable players. The first good “products” were the established Ovidiu Burca (Energie Cottbus), Ionut Rada (ex Rapid and Steaua Bucharest), Mihai Dina (Universitatea Craiova, but now there’s a new generation that includes the promising Sebastian Mladen, Alexandru Pena, Alin Petrea and Adrian Stoian (all transferred to AS Roma), Sabrin Sburlea (FC Brasov), Liviu Ganea (Dinamo), Lucian Filip (Steaua).
Dinamo – Florin Bratu (29 years old, right winger/forward)
Injured in October 2008, Bratu returned on the pitch after a 13 months long nightmare, but only played one game for Dinamo’s reserve team, in the second division. He had suffered a severe injury to his knee and was poorly treated while in Romania, but made a complete recovery after spending the last few months in Italy. It remains to be seen if he can display the same pace, confidence and coolness in front of goal, but he has enough time during this long winter break to regain his match fitness and be ready to make an impact in the second half of season.
Bratu has a solid scoring record for the Red Dogs, with 27 goals in 61 matches, while the injury suffered in 2008 came after he had scored 7 times in 9 appearances. His return will bolster an impressive attacking force, as he will compete with the likes of Marius Niculae, Claudiu Niculescu and Andrei Cristea, but will also be an alternative to Gabriel Torje, for the right winger role.
Steaua – Ovidiu Petre (27 years old, central defensive midfielder)
Tormented by injuries, he should finally have a chance to make an impact for Steaua, after recovering completely from his fourth knee surgery of a career that looked very promising indeed. 11 matches last season and only 4 during the current campaign is obviously too little from a player that showed only glimpses of what he could offer to the red and blue outfit.
Strong anchorman, Petre should not only provide the needed cover for a renewed defensive line, but he will also inject a dose of leadership in a team that lost influent figures like Radoi and Ghionea.
Unirea Urziceni – Marius Onofras (29 years old, forward)
Missed almost the entire second half of last season due to a strange injury to his right knee and played only 10 games in the league in the current campaign. A key player in Dan Petrescu’s tactical setup, with a very interesting role on the pitch, where he was always switching between attack and midfield, helping in recovering the ball and then running the channels up front, on paths learned to perfection in training, reminded everyone of his importance with the excellent goal scored in the Champions League against Glasgow Rangers.
Outstanding work-rate and determination, plus the good scoring instincts and solid understanding with key centre-forward Marius Bilasco, make Onofras a valuable asset for Unirea, but we should see if new coach Ronny Levy realizes his importance for the team. In the current campaign, played only 10 games in the league (four starts), scoring 4 goals, and made four appearances as a sub in the Champions League group stage, scoring once.
FC Timisoara – Cristian Mejia (19 years old, forward)
The skilful Colombian forward has arrived in Romania three months ago, but FC Timisoara could not register his transfer due to a conflict between the club that raised Mejia and the club that sold him to Timisoara. Has played only in a friendly match and coach Ioan Ovidiu Sabau hopes that he can add pace and creativity up front and that the time wasted so far at least helped the player adjust to the new lifestyle and blend into the squad.
FC Timisoara – Milos Brezinsky (25 years old, central defender)
Severely injured to his left knee in December 2008, the towering centre-back missed an entire year, but is now back to full fitness and should play as a regular in the second half of season. Has played 21 matches for FC Timisoara since his transfer from Slovan Liberec (after a loan spell at Sparta Prague) and looked strong, confident and a influent figure at the back. Should further improve a strong defense, which relied mostly on the work done by the entire team and a consistent and efficient centre-back like him could allow the coach to replace one of the two central defensive midfielders with a more attacking minded player.