Look at the top scorers from Liga 1, with half of season gone, and you won’t see a striker up there. Liviu Antal, a winger, and Eric de Oliveira, a number 10, are leading the charts with 11 goals. That’s a personal record for the FC Vaslui player and a sign of revival from the Brazilian who just got named for the second time the best foreign player in the league. The top three is completed by Astra’s Constantin Budescu, an attacking midfielder who’s enjoying his best season – so, obviously, has to take a lot of stick from Astra’s owner. Strikers do follow, don’t worry, but the first one on the list, in its high section, of course, is… Tunisian: Petrolul’s Hamza Younes. We finally find a prolific Romanian striker in the top flight: he’s Szabolcs Szekely, a 29 years old who’s hardly national team material, even though he netted 9 times for the newly promoted club from Timisoara.
Ok, so Romania lacks a good number 9 in the league, but let’s not forget we had a striker with over 20 goals last season, so let’s have a look abroad… Gone to Sevilla for a decent amount of money, Raul Rusescu played just over 300 minutes and scored 3 goals, ending up on loan to Sporting Braga. But Rusescu was never a real option for Victor Piturca, who relied on two names: Ciprian Marica and Bogdan Stancu. The former Schalke striker signed late with Getafe, but with no real competition within the team collected already 10 appearances in La Liga, scoring just once in the process. Stancu’s doing better, enjoying a decent season in the Turkish league, with 7 goals for Genclerbirligi, but he’ll always be the first to blame after a bad result, Marica’s charisma and clever online presence proving quite useful…
So, with the “established strikers” misfiring both at home and abroad, the obvious solution would be to gamble, something Piturca used to be good at (until caught cheating in casinos…). But can you ask the national team coach to do that with a player like Sergiu Bus, a 21 years old who scored 7 times this season for a newly promoted club, when his own team refused to give him a proper chance to prove himself? Yes, CFR Cluj has a young striker on its books, but would rather loan him no matter where, although there would be a market for a player of this profile. In the past, it used to make sense, with strikers like Kone or Lacina Traore on the books and the team fighting for the title. But now, when CFR’s top scorer is Ogbu, a 24 years old Nigerian, with 4 goals in half of season, and a 7th place in the standings, you might think that something’s not right. I’d say it’s the strategy and it applies to almost the entire first division, but the owners and the fans would rather stick to the usual suspects… CFR just changed their coach and Piturca is not too comfortable either, so we might just need a few more years (or decades?) to realize we could also do with some proper football players…
The Brazilian has been the best player from Liga I in the first part of the season and Gaz Metan’s efforts to keep away the interested clubs would have been admirable, if they would have tried to offer their star player a better deal, rather than lie about his real contract situation. The board, represented by Ioan Horoba, who previously worked for Gloria Bistrita – only the most controversial club in the country, in the past two decades -, offered the press a version nobody went to the trouble of verifying, so it has been said more than once that Eric was bought from Metropolitano and signed a new five years long deal. Of course, that wasn’t true, but the player’s agents minded their business and continued to work on finding a new club for the Brazilian, who should have returned to Metropolitano, next summer, unless no other club (except Gaz Metan) would have triggerred a release clause of 350.000 Euros – way below his current market value.
According to Eric’s agent, he’s 90% close to a move to 1. Bundesliga and, considering a detail he shared on Twitter, the three possible destinations are: Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and Hannover 96, a club I used to work for, which I believe to have the right profile for the Brazilian and viceversa…
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.
The round kicked-off with a surprise just for those who thought that everything’s fine at the champion club. Sportul exploited the visitiors’ arrogance and lack of determination, putting three past Nuno Claro, but could not end Mandorlini’s contract, well defended by a clause of 800.000 Euros. Bad news for the numerous players who thought that this was the way to get rid of their coach, starting with Lacina Traore, who finished an embarrassing display with a criminal attack that killed any hope of a fightback conducted by the once out-of-favor Sixto Peralta. Read more…