Gaman and Barboianu can be considered free players. Universitatea’s boss, fined and suspended for 6 months!
The third meeting that judged the case filed by the two Universitatea Craiova players ended with a favorable result for Valerica Gaman and Stefan Barboianu. The two defenders are no longer under contract with Universitatea, although the club has the right to appeal this decision in the next five days.
With Gaman missing out on a move to Vitesse Arnhem, a few weeks ago, but still in demand both in Ukraine and Romania, the negotiations that already took place are expected to enter the final stage. Barboianu, a versatile full-back and former U21 national team player, shouldn’t have too much trouble in finding quickly another team either. Still, I doubt that Craiova’s owner, Adrian Mititelu, who was fined and suspended for half of year, after his repeated attacks in the media, will accept defeat without another fight. If he was able to present five years long contracts signed by the players a day before they left the training camp without notice, in the middle of the night, I’m sure he’ll think of something else and try to turn things in his favor. And don’t think it’s impossible, we’re in Romania!
It’s not news anymore, but it’s another interesting story, which says a lot about the game in Romania and the struggle to behave like professionals. Rui Duarte arrived in Romania from Estrela Amadora back in 2008, when, thanks to CFR’s rise, it was not just trendy to buy players from the Portuguese market, but also the almost guaranteed way of adding quality to the roster, without spending a lot of money. It was cheaper to buy from a mid-table team playing in Liga Sagres than from a newly promoted squad in Liga I or even a second division club, the lack of common sense and realism when it comes to discussing a transfer fee being still an issue in Romanian football.
For less than half a million Euros, FC Brasov managed to buy the player that went on to establish himself as the best right back in the league, an award claimed on a regular basis, year after year, and the move to one of the Bucharest clubs made perfect sense, from this point of view. Those who like to look at football as a business, where players are getting paid to work like almost any other professional out there, have always looked at Rui Duarte from a different perspective, though. The Portuguese full-back had developped a habit of returning late for almost any holiday, but this was overlooked, as FC Brasov was considered a mediocre team, with no quality backup solution to take a stand against this practice, and, for some reason, Rui Duarte would have stopped acting like an amateur once he had made a move to a truly professional club. Like Rapid? Neah, it doesn’t fit the profile, although we’re talking about a title challenger. Rapid is 11 (eleven) days away from the first official game of 2011 and what does the board do? Organize a trip to Portugal, to convince Rui Duarte to return to the club! After missing the entire winter preparation, he is kindly asked to come back and make every single team-mate look like an idiot, for wearing themselves out for two months, to secure a place in the first eleven. Something Rui Duarte doesn’t have to do not because he’s an excellent player – by the way, he’s not! -, but because he got some interesting results to the repeated tests conducted on the guys allowed to run first division clubs, either as board members or as part of the technical staff. They are always ready to make a compromise, yet never understand why the lack of professionalism is such a common disease even at Liga I players, either homegrown or signed from abroad. The thought that it might be actually their fault probably never crossed their rested minds…
The Argentinian who, in his youth, worked as a bricklayer eight hours a day, while playing for a third division club, signed today a three and a half years long deal with Galata, the same period he spent in Cluj. A consistent player, he collected 89 matches for CFR, but scored only 3 goals in Liga I, a rather poor record for a midfielder who’s more valuable in attack than in defense. He’s been a key player nevertheless and leaves Romania after two triumphs in the league and some memorable performances, like this amazing brace (who said he doesn’t score enough?) against AS Rome:
A versatile two-footed player, he can cover several roles in midfield, can provide very good service from the flank, and is a reliable set-plays taker. Has good work-rate and will play his part in getting the ball back, but has one major problem: he keeps the ball too much, trying to find space and time for the decisive pass, often slowing down the build-up. At least once per game you’ll see him crossing from one side to the other with the ball at his feet, paralyzing his team-mates, who ran out of ideas and space in the opposition’s half. This might be seen more rarely in Istanbul, though, as I expect Culio to lose some of the freedom he enjoyed in Cluj, where he was often the only midfielder able & in charge of opening up the opposition’s defense.
The financial details of the move presented in the Romanian press: 1,5 million Euros upfront + 0,5 million Euros in the summer for CFR Cluj. In February 2009, CFR had turned down a 4 million Euros from Rubin Kazan!
- Culio, on the move to Galatasaray: “It’s a dream move for me, I’m delighted. It’s an honor to have Hagi as a coach and I’m impressed with the conditions at this great club”.
- Culio, in November 2008: “Cluj is just a station in my career, I hold an Italian passport and my dream is to be able to play in Serie A at one point”.
It’s that time of the year and Andrei Vochin, probably the only football journalist in Romania who writes and speaks just about football, starts providing the standings with the best players from Liga I, after the first half of season. And it’s no surprise to see up there, as the best keeper in Romania, Otelul’s Branko Grahovac, who managed to keep a clean sheet in half of the 18 games played so far. He is protecting the goal for the current league leaders and he was on the podium at the end of last season too, so the 27 years old, bought for 70.000 Euros exactly one year ago from Borac Cacak, has every right to feel good about this “award” and point the finger at the media that cannot stop praising the likes of Tatarusanu (Steaua – 6th place in the standings) and Pantilimon (Poli Timisoara – 11th!): “This is based on stats, not sympathies, so it means I’m better than those two. I agree, Tatarusanu is Steaua’s best player, but I cannot understand how can Pantilimon be the first choice for your national team!”.
Far from perfect (still prone to the odd incredible goal-causing error), Grahovac should thank not just Otelul’s defense, but the entire team, as Dorinel Munteanu asks the same involvement from every player in protecting the goal and getting the ball back. And wouldn’t look bad at all, if he’d show a little modesty, even if he came to Romania to make money, not friends.
Plesca (Gaz Metan – who did a great job covering the absence of Buchta, who was the best keeper in the league, last season!) and Kuciak (FC Vaslui) are just behind Grahovac in the Top 3, who shouldn’t feel too comfortable in this position if he looks to what happened with the keeper that was leading the standings last winter, Robinson Zapata, who spent on almost a year among Steaua’s reserves before leaving the country on a free transfer, not on a high horse…
They have been the best foreign players in 2010 and they’re either looking to move in search of a new challenge & more money or have attracted too much interest from the bigger teams in Liga I to finish the season at their current clubs.
1. Wesley Lopes da Silva
- Club: FC Vaslui
- Position: Forward
- Age: 30
- Games/goals this season: 18/6
He’s pushing for the league title with FC Vaslui, yet he wants to move away this winter. Again. Last time he did that, club owner Adrian Porumboiu applied the “star treatment”, making the Brazilian the team’s captain, in spite of an attitude he used to punish severely (Carlos Costly is probably still regretting for trying to do things “the hard way”). This time, I doubt there’s something that can be done, as the excellent attacking man (who scored six goals even if he had to play as a central midfielder, in a 4-2-3-1!) will be entering the last six months of a 300.000 Euros/season deal, but he’s wrong if he thinks that this in enough to ease his way out of Vaslui, even if clubs like Steaua and especially CFR Cluj have small chances to finish the season above Porumboiu’s team.
2. Eric de Oliveira
- Club: Gaz Metan Medias
- Position: Attacking Midfielder
- Age: 25
- Games/goals this season: 18/9
Add 7 assists to the 9 goals scored this season and you’ll get the picture: he’s been in hot form since the start of the season and cannot continue under Pustai’s command, although he’ll have a hard time finding a finer coach in Liga I and a similar group of players&friends. He has to try, though, to prove himself in a more challenging environment, as he’s got the age, the experience and the quality to make it at a higher level and he’ll move this winter, in spite of all the problems Gaz Metan have been trying to create, since they’ve realized that they could lose their star player for nothing. His contract with the Romanian club will expire in June 2011, in spite of recent reports spread through papers too lazy to check the information handed to them by Gaz Metan’s board.
3. Aluisio Chaves Ribeiro Moraes Junior
- Club: Gloria Bistrita
- Age: 23
- Position: Forward
- Games/goals this season: 15/8
He’s at the end of an excellent first year and he should move now if he wants to take advantage of the inspired decision to come to Romania, to such a small club and pressure-free environment, like Gloria Bistrita. His brother’s recent release has reduced close to zero the reasons to continue at the club, but the question is who is going to satisfy the old fox Jean Padureanu. He’ll want cash&players, plus a little help to have a safe season, out of a deal that should not go through for less than a million Euros, in spite of visible and laughable efforts from the Becali brothers to decrease the player’s market value through some repeated comments in the media. Ribeiro Moraes is one of the few complete attackers this league has seen in recent times, a skilful creator and finisher, a free kick specialist, the kind of 2 in 1 forward that could help any team that misses both a playmaker and a striker.
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – FC Brasov 2-1 (Pintilii 83 pen, Apostu 90 / Ilyes 68 pen)
Unbeaten in four games, Pandurii climb out of the relegation zone, thanks to the excellent work from new coach Petre Grigoras. This was a vital game for both clubs and there wasn’t much between two organized teams, until the first huge mistake from a poor ref. Unfortunately, things got worse, as he tried to make up for that error with another invented penalty, although there was a sense of justice in his action. Left with only 10 players on the pitch, after Pandurii equalized from the spot, Brasov failed to hold on to a point and are in the zone everyone had expected to see them, after they lost almost an entire team before the start of the season.
- CFR Cluj – Gaz Metan Medias 1-1 (De Zerbi 1 / Edimar 12 og)
Excellent tactical battle – as always, when Cristi Pustai is involved -, as Gaz Metan managed to cancel quickly a nice goal created by Bjelanovic, who has so much to offer to this team, thanks to his quality and experience. The equalizer came after a deflected free kick from Eric de Oliveira, who is right to feel angry that this was considered an own-goal, as he could have reached Steaua’s Bogdan Stancu at the top of the scorers’ list, with 10 goals in 16 rounds. Impressive stuff! CFR continues to lose very important points and should sound more convinced that they’re out of the title race, as this lack of realism will only do more harm in the near future. Read more…
That is THE question, after Traore decided to go for personal glory on the Olimpico, refusing to offer Culio the chance to score his third game against AS Roma, after the wonderful brace from two years ago, and maybe denying his team the chance to get another great result in the Champions League.
Arsenal, Galatasaray, Hamburg, Udinese, Napoli, Liverpool. All these clubs have been linked with „CFR’s jewel”, as the club’s president likes to speak of Lacina Traore, the big forward who offered last night, against AS Roma, the kind of display that justifies both an affirmative and a negative answer to the above question. At 0-0, he had enough luck to evade Nicolas Burdisso, but, instead of offering an assist to Juan Culio, in a situation that demanded such a decision, chose to take a shot at goal, hitting the crossbar. He would go on to offer a solid display, tormenting Roma’s defenders with his rare combination of pace, strength and skill, hitting the bar once more with a powerful left footed effort from just outside the box and getting deserved praise from Claudio Ranieri, yet I feel we should get back to that key moment that defines a 20 years old who’s at a turning point in his career.
“I am not mad at Traore. A forward needs to be selfish!” – Arpad Paszkany, CFR’s owner
“I’ve already told my players that the guy who will go for the shot instead of a pass, in a similar play to Traore’s, can kiss his salary good-bye for the following three months” - Victor Piturca, former national team coach, now at Universitatea Craiova
Ok, some agree that forwards need to get their share of shot at/on goal (Cristiano Ronaldo took 58 shots at goal so far, scoring just twice in La Liga!) and there are top professionals who’d like to remind everyone that football is a team’s sport. So, maybe it’s right to work a bit on the question at hand and come up with another one: “How selfish can one football player be?”. Read more…
Name: Mihai Pintilii
Position: central defender
Height/Weight: 181 cm/75 kg
Club: Pandurii Targu Jiu
Left Jiul Petrosani on a free transfer in January and made an instant impact at International Curtea de Arges, where he collected 11 appearances in the top flight, finishing his first half of season at this level as the team’s captain. Now, he moved alongside his coach and colleagues from International to Pandurii, where he offered an excellent display in the first round of the season, against Unirea Urziceni. In spite of his small size for a centre-back, Pintilii managed to contain Unirea’s top centre-forward, Bilasco, an outstanding player in the air and a key man in Levy’s tactical plans. Pintilii was focused, quick, aggressive when required and outplayed Bilasco with his excellent anticipation, controlling his opponent on the chest and coming out for the ball at the right moment, with impressive efficiency. On top of that, he had to sweep several loose balls and generally had a lot of work, considering the poor displays from his partner Ousmane Viera and especially the highly-rated-for-no-reason left back, Cardoso. Looked a lot like Steaua’s former captain, Mirel Radoi, and I recall Pintilii being offered to Steaua a few years ago, but, at that time, the Bucharest side had players like Radoi, Ghionea or Goian in the team and the centre back had to return in the second division.
Just missed on an European spot last season, in spite of Ioan Andone’s attempts to save what seemed a compromised campaign. Involved in a huge controversy, regarding the use of two players loaned from Sportul Studentesc, Dacian Varga and Tiberiu Balan, who were registered after the winter mercato period had ended, Rapid wasted a year, paying for poor management and a lack of strategy from the club’s owner, George Copos. Surprisingly, this guy, who repeatedly tried to get rid of the club, returned this summer determined to make Rapid one of the serious title contenders in Liga I. He convinced Dinu Gheorghe to come back from FC Brasov as the club’s president and this very influent character in Romanian football returned in style: 5 of Brasov’s best players came along and the young coach Marius Sumudica – considered one of the clubs living legends – has an excellent squad at his disposal and basically no excuse if he’ll finish the season outside the first two spots.
Players in: Marcos Antonio (central defender, 27, Belensenses), Sabrin Sburlea (forward, 21, FC Brasov), Mihai Roman (right midfielder, 26, FC Brasov), Rui Duarte (right back, 30, FC Brasov), Roosevelt Tavares de Melo Ezequias (left back, 30, FC Brasov), Nicolae Grigore (central defensive midfielder, 27, FC Brasov), Cassio Vargas (striker, 27, Uniao Leiria), Glauber Berti (central defender, 27, Sao Caetano), Gustavo Nacaratto Veronesi, 28, right winger).
Players out: Adrian Iencsi (central defender, 35, Concordia Chiajna), Diego Ciz (left back, 29, Olimpia Asuncion – loan expired), Darjian Matic (central defensive midfielder, 27, released), Ilie Iordache (forward, 25, AEK Athens – loan expired), Alexandru Ionita (striker, 21, FC Koln), Edgars Gauracs (striker, 22, FK Ventspils – loan expired), Cristian Sapunaru (right back, 26, FC Porto – loan expired), Helder da Silva Fereira (right wing back, 22, Nancy – loan expired), Dacian Varga (left winger, 26, Sportul Studentesc – loan expired), Tiberiu Balan (attacking midfielder, 29, Sportul Studentesc – loan expired).
Intense activity on the market, with impressive results, indeed. Rapid lost a number of players, but only a couple were indeed valuable for the team, and decided to cashvin on the promising Ionita after his first full season for the seniors. On the other hand, the buys were spot on: Rui Duarte will make up for Sapunaru’s departure, Ezequias will provide competition for Bozovic, who becomes also availabe for a more advanced role on the left side, while Cassio and Sburlea should do better in terms of efficiency than Ionita. Roman’s addition – a national team player these days – is a coup, but the two Brazilian centre-backs will need to confirm the board’s inspiration and Sumudica’s ability to recondition two players of some quality, but who come from very long breaks. To conclude, Rapid has now quality on each position, competition for a place in the first eleven and a group of players hungry for trophies. Excellent job from the staff!
- Coach: Marius Sumudica (new)
- Preferred system: 4-2-3-1
- Ideal first eleven: Bornescu – Rui Duarte, Glauber, Constantin, Bozovic – Grigore, Lazar – Roman, Spadacio, Cesinha – Cassio Vargas
- Reliable subs: Ezequias (left back), Marcos Antonio (central defender), Herea (attacking midfielder), Grigorie (attacking midfielder), Sburlea (striker).
- Key player: Costin Lazar. The three offensive players, Roman, Spadacio and Cesinha, are match winners, in my opinion, but what would they do if the team’s captain, one of the most gifted and underrated central midfielders in Romanian football, misses from the pitch? Technically gifted, composed and comfortable on the ball, having excellent vision and the ability to link up play effectively, he’s the man that keeps Rapid’s game flowing. A fight with Sumudica in pre-season was a signal that he’s a bit frustrated at the lack of offers from abroad, but it’s all in the past now, as he realized that this team has what it takes to win something this year.
- Underrated player: None. At this point, there are around 20 players entitled for a place in the first eleven and, with so many additions, it’s fair to wait a couple of months and see everyone at work.
- Liability: Constantin’s partner in central defense. Both Glauber and Marcos Antonio need time to regain match fitness, after lengthy spells on the sidelines, and will be prone to mistakes at least in the first few rounds of the season.
What to expect:
There is a lot of enthusiasm in Giulesti, where there’s a passionate crowd and the atmosphere at Rapid’s home games is impressive even when the team plays badly, so we can expect a good start from Rapid. But problems do appear as the season progresses and we can expect them in a team that will leave on the bench or in the stands good players every round, in a team that has a habit of alternating wonderful performances against the top clubs with poor results against the smaller teams. It will all depend on Sumudica’s ability to keep things balanced and under control, but he’s rather an impulsive, choleric character and quite unexperienced as a Liga I coach.
Last season’s third place only motivated the wealthy Adrian Porumboiu to continue his solid investment in a small club, but who definitely looks on its way to success. Vaslui matched the champions from CFR in terms of quality buys from abroad, having in Wesley da Silva, Gladstone, Costly or Kuciak top players by Liga I standards, but the team guided by Marius Lacatus lost pace and energy exactly when they needed a final, convincing sprint. If Lacatus wouldn’t have decided to move to Spain, I’m sure he would have been replaced anyway, knowing Porumboiu’s determination to prove not just his financial strength, but also that, as a former international ref, he’s got more footballing culture than any other club owner.
Players in: David Rivas (central defender, 31, Betis Seville), Vytautas Cerniauskas (goalkeeper, 21, Ekranas), Alejandro Campano (midfielder, 32, Gimnastic), Rodolfo Bodipo (striker, 32, Deportivo La Coruna – loan), Daniel Pancu (central attacking midfielder, 33, CSKA Sofia), Silviu Balace (left back, 32, Universitatea Craiova – returns from loan)
Players out: Roberto Alfonso Delgado (right midfielder, 24, Universitatea Cluj)
Interesting campaign, based on players demanded and convinced by the newly appointed coach, Lopez Caro, who should add experience and professionalism to a team that managed to keep all the important names from the previous campaign. The imports from Spain have been a rare treat in Liga I, while Pancu’s return to Romania, very close to his birthplace, Iasi, could exploit the last top performances from a quality attacking player indeed, who could have made it big in European football, with a bit more luck. What’s a bit surprising is the fact that Vaslui paid just one transfer fee this summer, 300.000 Euros for the promising Lithuanian keeper Cerniasukas, but has probably the largest wage bill in the league.
- Coach: Lopez Caro (new)
- Preferred system: 4-2-3-1
- Ideal first eleven: Cerniauskas – Milanov, Rivas, Farkas, Hugo Luz – Gladstone, Pancu – Sanmartean, Wesley, Milisavijevic – Bodipo
- Realiable subs: Kuciak (goalkeeper), Zubar (central defender), Ghencev (central midfielder), Pavlovic (central midfielder), Costly (striker), Temwanjera (striker)
- Key player: Wesley. Quality attacking option, able to create and finish and play at a high level on a number of positions and roles. One of the top three forwards in the league, can decide matches on his own, but often plays for the team, showing very good understanding with Sanmartean last season, looking excited to have the chance to play alongside other quality footballers. With their number increased after this summer’s campaign, we can expect even greater things from the Brazilian.
- Underrated player: Nemanja Milisavijevic. The left footed winger has outstanding pace, good dribbling skills and can torment his direct opponent, but unfortunately for him, last season, he rarely played at his full potential. Fully fit, he could have a very good year, but it’s hard to say who is going to be the top player this time around, with so many quality players in midfield and attack.
- Liability: Vytautas Cerniauskas – if he plays right away. The young goalie has just arrived, but, given the conflict between the club and first choice keeper Dusan Kuciak, he might get soon the chance to prove himself and I doubt that a second Arlauskis could arrive to Liga I so soon and make a similar impact. If I’d be in Caro’s place I would trust Haisan, who stepped in well even last season and should offer time and guidance to Cerniauskas, as well.
What to expect:
A very strong team, with an interesting coach and technical staff and solid finances, FC Vaslui is a serious threat and everyone’s aware of that. The club’s problems could come from Lopez Caro’s lack of knowledge about Romanian football – which could prove mindblowing, at times, through all sorts of episodes – and the unsolved conflicts for long periods, similar to the two that currently invlove Costly and Kuciak (two of the club’s best players). The fact is, though, that the team has so many potential match winners that I cannot see FC Vaslui losing points against the smaller clubs, who will defend at all costs and through any means available, and should offer very entertaining derbies.