It’s suicidal! Which, in footballing terms, means it’s the safest path to the second division. Nobody would dare to build an all-Romanian team, with the lowest average age in the first division, before the start of the season and not move a muscle in the three months long winter break spent on a place that yells at you “you’re going down, you fool!”. Sportul Studentesc are doing exactly that – and, trust me, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it! – and in 2012 has three wins out of three, the last one on the ground of the (now former) league’s leaders, Dinamo. They’ve climbed a few places in the standings and have determined a few other teams look at the relegation battle from a different perspective.
The owner of this team is Vasile Siman, the guy you don’t want to call, if you want one of his players. He’ll slap a 1 million Euros price tag on the forehead of any 19 years old that only played a handful of first division games without blinking. Try to negotiate and he’ll leave you at the table, probably with check to cover all by yourself. So, it’s best to order something light. This strategy has allowed this owner – who rarely buys a player and covers sometimes the often unpaid wages by offering to the squad mobile phones, coats and pickles – to make a huge profit by selling for millions players like Gigel Bucur, Ionut Mazilu, Costin Lazar (all playing abroad now) or George Galamaz. He’s so difficult to discuss with that Dacian Varga could only go to play on loan at Kuban Krasnodar. Twice. Now, the winger who was a regular in a play-off side from the Russian first division is back at the struggling Romanian first division club. And not playing…
Yes, Sportul won 3 out of 3 in 2012 without two of their three stand-out players, Dacian Varga and Costin Curelea (the striker all the big Romanian clubs wanted this winter, but couldn’t afford). The third is Viorel Ferfelea, the fragile number 10 who captained the side against Dinamo, scoring twice in the first three matches of the year. Who are the others? Well, guys like Patriche, Stancu and Farmache are the most experienced in Liga I, after moving through different clubs before returning to Sportul (if I’m not mistaking, Stancu and Farmache were playing in the season when Sportul scared the shit out of the big clubs finishing fourth – a feat which caused so much upset that the club became the first ever to be denied a license for the following season, being relegated!). The others are either recruits from second or third division clubs (Lazar, who offers the assist for the 1st goal vs Dinamo and scores the 3rd, was considered too poor by Petrolul Ploiesti, the club that raised him) or products of a renown youth setup, which offers poor training conditions, but has the satisfaction of seeing its’ best youngsters immediately offered a chance to shine for the seniors.
The best example? Razvan Popa, who’s only 16 and had started football at Steaua Bucharest, was handed a debut on Sunday. He played less than a minute, but if you ask Siman, he’s worth at least half of million. It’s a crisis, he understands that clubs cannot pay the same crazy amounts as before, but you’d better act quickly, as you don’t want this kid to score his first goal in the top flight…
- Central defender Cosmin Barcauan is close to a return home, after three and a half seasons spent in Greece, at PAOK and OFI, where he was sent on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk. Barcauan (31) started his Liga I career as a striker for Universitatea Craiova, but was moved in central defense and then transferred to Dinamo, the club that is hoping to sign him in the next few days, after the player passed today a medical exam.
- Named Best foreign player in Romania, Pablo Brandan (26) has won also a place in the ideal first eleven of the league, after half a season. The Argentinian left back is currently playing for reigning champions Unirea Urziceni and doesn’t hide his disappointment for missing out on a transfer to VFB Stuttgart. The German club apparently offered 1.100.000 1.400.000 EUR, but the Romanian club was expecting to land a deal in the region of 3.000.000 EUR.
- Dacian Varga (25), currently under contract with second division club Sportul Studentesc, has several club from the first division interested in his services. After Steaua Bucharest and FC Timisoara, Rapid Bucharest lined up in the race for his signature. Each club is trying different approaches to convince Vasile Siman, the owner of Sportul, to sell the player, after the left winger impressed in the Champions League group stage this season, playing on loan at Unirea Urziceni.
- Marius Constantin (25) finally agreed to extend his contract with Rapid, which was expiring at the end of the season and one of the most interesting targets for free transfers in the summer has become unavailable. The defender was a target for several Russian and German clubs, but apparently Dynamo Kyiv was at one point keen to sign the strong centre-back. Constantin’s new deal will expire in June 2013 and he got a raise from 120.000 EUR to 200.000 EUR per season.
- Colombian attacking midfielder Dayro Moreno (24) has publicly demanded to be allowed to return to Once Caldas, although the club cannot afford the 500.000 EUR transfer fee.