Steaua makes the second most expensive signing in the club’s history: Mihai Costea, from Universitatea Craiova
Gigi Becali didn’t learn a single thing from the 2009 deal that saw Cristi Tanase move from FC Arges to Steaua, in exchange of an incredible 1.8 million Euros, for just 50% of the player’s rights! Tanase has been a huge disappointment so far, in spite of glimpses of quality, like the Anfield display, when he scored against Liverpool, in the Europa League, but that doesn’t stop the Bucharest side make a second, very similar deal.
Yesterday, Becali announced that in a matter of days the smaller of the Costea brothers will join Steaua in the summer. The transfer’s details: 1.4 million Euros for 60% of the player’s rights! Becali said that he initially tried to get Florin, but in spite of a 3 million Euros offer, Craiova’s owner refused to sell, as the deal would have angered the fans. In fact, this is probably a strategy to calm them down anyway, with a third hot prospect joining a Bucharest club, after the other two former U21 players, Valerica Gaman and Stefan Barboianu, now playing for Dinamo.
Does Mihai Costea, who scored only 2 goals in 20 appearances this season!, deserve such an impressive investment? Definitely not. Do you expect to sell him for what? 4 million Euros? Another detail that doesn’t click: looking at the standings and knowing Universitatea’s financial struggle, there was absolutely no rush in concluding the deal now, not to mention the lack of competition for Mihai Costea’s signature! Why not wait until the summer, then, when Craiova might be below the line and with a bigger pressure to sell?
Well, selling Stancu to Galatasaray for 6 million Euros (only half goes to Steaua, the other half wil fill the agents’ pockets) might have something to do with Becali’s “generosity”. In my opinion, though, this deal is definitely related to the “liasons” that make the ball bounce strangely in some matches and Romanian football just a fascinating game, amusing if watched from the right distance, but scary at every approach. With no clear financial rules, no relation to the other European markets and just a firm belief that every player that gets to start a Liga I game should deserve at least one million Euros. But, there’s saying: stupid is the one who pays, not the one who asks…
Coming form behind for a 2-1 away win in the first round was a nice feat, but Steaua’s manager ignored everyone’s enthusiasm and kept on working on a team that needs time and patience to gel, but also more names on some positions, in order to sustain a successful campaign.
Yesterday morning, Piturca made a surprising signing, ClaudiuVoiculet, a small midfielder who played last season for International Curtea de Arges, but didn’t move to Pandurii alongside his former coach and teammates and was still looking for a team. Versatile, two footed player, quick and hard working, the 25 years old looks like a backup solution, but the length of his deal (three years) could mean that Piturca might think otherwise. Steaua paid around 300.000 Euros and International’s owner, Benone Lazar, will also get a percentage from the midfielder’s next transfer fee.
Yesterday evening, right before FC Timisoara’s debut in Europa League, aganst MyPa, the club’s owner announced the coach that he should not start, nor use the Brazilian right back, Eder Bonfim. The defender had been sold to Steaua, who wanted to count on Bonfim for its first European game of the season. The 29 years old required a 400.000 Euros investment and could be offered the chance to start right away, as the Bulgarian Todorov struggles to adapt, while the Nigerian Emeghara played poorly in the first round.
With these two moves, Steaua gains more depth, but didn’t find a decisive, important player. Still, it will be very important if Piturca uses the same strategy in adding one more name to his attacking options, as he relies currently only on Bogdan Stancu and Pantelis Kapetanos for the lone striker’s role, with Romeo Surdu way below Steaua’s demands, in my opinion.
Fourth place last season wasn’t that bad, considering the poor quality of the team and the huge conflict between the fans and the club’s owner, but Gigi Becali realized that he needs to change not for Steaua’s sake, but thinking about the lost money in recent years, where he dictated everything at the club, making a mockery of what still is the team with the biggest fan base in Romania. That’s why he accepted Victor Piturca’s conditions, including the toughest of all: keeping his big huge mouth shut. The former national team coach took up the manager’s role – Premier League style – supervising the training sessions conducted by Eugen Neagoe, former Pandurii coach, bringing back former Steaua players and offering them jobs in the youth academy, installing Emerich Ienei (the man that brought Steaua the biggest European trophy in 1986) as club president, getting the fans back in the stands and behind the team. He did so many important things for the club that missing out on the title this season shouldn’t matter that much. But I’m sure this is unacceptable for the ambitious Piturca…
Players in: Stanislav Angelov (central midfielder, 32, Energie Cottbus), Iasmin Latovlevic (left back, 24, FC Timisoara), Cosmin Matei (central attacking midfielder, 19, Farul Constanta), Geraldo Alves (central defender, 30, AEK Athens), Yordan Todorov (right back, 29, Lokomotiv Plovdiv), Novak Martinovic (central defender, 25, Pandurii), Alexandru Pacurar (central midfielder, 29, Pandurii), Razvan Stanca (goalkeeper, 31, Pandurii), Florin Gardos (central defender, 22, Concordia Chiajna), Dorel Stoica (central defensive midfielder, 32, El Ettifaq), Mihai Radut (central attacking midfielder, 20, International Curtea de Arges), Octavian Abrudan (central midfielder, 26, FC Brasov).
Players out: Arman Karamyan (forward, 31, released), Artiom Karamyan (left midfielder, 31, released), Petre Marin (left back, 37 , Unirea Urziceni), Zhivko Zhelev (central defender, 31, Inter Baku), Gora Tall (central defender, 25, APOP Kinyras – loan expired), Pepe Moreno (striker, 29, Independiente – loan expired), Pawel Golanski (right back, 28, released), Stelios Parpas (central defender, 25, AEL Limassol), Ovidiu Petre (central defensive midfielder, 28, Al Nasr), Alexandru Tudose (central defender, 23, Gloria Bistrita), Juan Toja (left midfielder, 25, Aris Salonic).
Massive changes in Ghencea, where Piturca wanted and had every reason to create a new team. Among the rare important losses is Ovidiu Petre, but the manager had on the anchorman role his favorite player already lined-up, Dorel Stoica. For the rest, he went on to bring on a mixture of young & promising players like Radut and experienced guys like Angelov, which proves that his goal is building a new squad, without sacrificing this season’s trophies at stake. Interesting fact, Steaua relies on the same forwards from last year, even though Pantelis Kapetanos doesn’t seem to fit the lone striker’s profile preferred by Piturca, which means that Bogdan Stancu should enjoy the best season of his career and start fulfilling his potential. But what if he doesn’t or gets injured? Back to the Greek one more time? What does this guy has to do – this year, against all odds, got to play in the World Cup! – in order to start a season as the number one choice for the centre-forward role?
- Coach: Victor Piturca (new)
- Preferred system: 4-1-4-1
- Ideal first eleven: Tatarusanu - Emeghara, Abrudan, Geraldo Alves, Latovlevici - Stoica - Nicolita, Radut, Angelov, Tanase - B. Stancu
- Reliable subs: Stanca (goalkeeper), Pacurar (central midfielder), Szekely (right winger), Kapetanos (centre forward).
- Key player: Dorel Stoica. Able to play in central defense, the 32 years old was convinced by Piturca to sign for Steaua, even when the manager wasn’t sure that he’ll return to Ghencea. Deployed in front of the back four, Stoica has the ability and the experience to protect not just the back four, but also the “front four”, as the line of midfielders will have to think how to open up the opposition’s defense, not be afraid that a missed pass or a miscontrolled ball could expose their own defense. In his own half, Stoica will win balls in the air, shut down channels, anticipate the midfielders looking to drop into space, but once Steaua regains possession, he will organize the build up, draw the back four as high as possible and eventually pose a threat with his long shots, especially from free kicks.
- Underrated player: Pantelis Kapetanos. The Greek isn’t a pleasure to watch, I agree, but he’s been a very prolific scorer even when Steaua was playing miserably - I wonder what he could do in a team that has superior possession and creative midfielders able to increase the number of scoring opportunities. His presence at the World Cup will keep him out of the team in the first month, but once “Kape” is fit, Stancu’s age and (unfulfilled) potential won’t be enough to keep him in the first eleven, ahead of this modest, hard-working and effective front man.
- Liability: Ciprian Tatarusanu. Promising, definitely gifted, looks to me like the kind of keeper that will need to turn 30 to be really something. But I might judge the guy a bit too hard and based mainly on last season’s performances, when Steaua’s defense was a joke.
What to expect:
A serious title challenge from a club offered by its clown of an owner to a very ambitious manager, Victor Piturca, who changed absolutely everything at Steaua and now it’s only a matter of time until the results will show that this is the way to run a successfull team. It will be hard to win the title right away, mainly because the league changed a lot in recent years and this isn’t just an affair between the Bucharest sides, but the fact that all the other title contenders point towards Steaua when asked who’s the favorite proves that the name still weights enough to crush the clubs that only recently enjoyed the sweet taste of success.
Steaua makes a much needed addition to its defense, but we’ll have to wait and see if the brother of FC Porto’s Bruno Alves is as good as the papers say. Geraldo Alves moves on a free transfer from AEK Athens and has agreed to a two years long contract, which makes him Steaua’s top earner. Leaving aside the 300.000 Euros installment fee, the 29 years old will get 25.000 Euros/month and should have no problem earning a spot in the first eleven, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t played in an official match for the past five months.