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.
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.
Arsenal, Udinese, Napoli. There are the teams that CFR Cluj presented until now as very interested in signing the Ivorian striker. Back in 2007, when he was playing for Stade D’Abidjan, there was a race between CFR and Sparta Prague and it seems that Traore made a good decision…
In January 2008, he came to Romania, but signed a contract during the summer, when he turned 18. Sent to play in the third division, managed to score there 15 goals in 13 matches and was handed a debut in CFR’s senior team and in the top flight by Dusan Uhrin Jr, on 4th of April 2009. Since then, he played in 19 matches, scoring five goals in the process. He also collected six appearances in the Europa League group stage, scoring two goals (against FC Kobenhavn and, ironically, Sparta Prague!). Although the naumbers aren’t impressive, he is the club’s top scorer in both competitions at this point.
Interesting enough, the guy wasn’t initially on the registration list that was about to be sent to UEFA, but he made it in the final days, after his only second match played at the beginning of the season, when he scored the winner in the 1-0 home victory against Otelul Galati.
The guy has a nice combination of pace and skill for a player of his size, 198 cm and 85 kg, and isn’t the centre-forward type. Instead, he likes to run the channels and to be served ball into feet, which makes sense if you think of Arsenal’s interest, right? He’s also naturally better than most of his opponents in the air, even though he needs to improve in terms of strength, which should help him both in the aerial duels as well as on the ground.
Traore’s estimated value (by his own club) is 4-5 mil. EUR. So, I believe Udinese is out of the question, given the Italians’ famous scouting network and their history of bringing into Serie A cheap talent from Africa and South America. Arsenal? I think the age, not the price would be the problem. Has Wenger gone mad and started to buy such old players already? Napoli? Well, I have nothing against it really, although I’d expect the Italians to try and bring in players with a higher profile, given their excellent season and always growing ambitions.