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Pantilimon has agreed terms with Udinese!

July 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Linked with the biggest of clubs in the past, Pantilimon can hope for a more reasonable asking price given Timisoara's problems

According to Costel Pantilimon’s agent, Florin Manea, the recent trip to Italy was a success, as the player was impressed with Udinese’s plans with him and agreed personal terms, returning to Romania to pack his bags. I know, Marian Iancu, Timisoara’s boss will try to complicate things a bit, hanging on for some more cash, in the hope that the transfer fee will go over 2 million Euros, but my advice would be to work harder for a percentage of the player’s future transfer.

Reasons? Udinese is an expert club in selling for a lot of money, Timisoara would have no use at the moment for the money to quickly rebuild their squad, as they will have to get used with second division football, after the latest decisions taken against them, and “Panti” is, as Italians like to say, “un portierone”.

Spotted at Aerostar Bacau in the third tier, some six years ago, by Timisoara’s current chief executive Gheorghe Chivorchian, Pantilimon was bought in exchange of around 50.000 Euros and you could say that he has fulfilled his potential, fighting for a place in Romania’s national team only with Steaua’s Ciprian Tatarusanu. At 24, he’s not just impressive in size (2,02 m / 103 kg), but boasts experience at all levels, with international matches, games in the preliminary rounds of European competitions (two seasons ago, he was in goal for the successful and incredible double  that eliminated Shakthar Donetsk from the CL!) and the not that challenging Liga I.

He’s good, but he’s far from the finished article, something the Italians will certainly look after as soon as they get him, although bluffed a bit in the meeting with the player and the agent saying that they might lose their no. 1 before the start of the new season. Above all, he still needs to improve his concentration & his handling, not to mention the guts to leave the line for the high balls he should easily collect, given his size.

Updates should be available in the next couple of days, so you should

Liga I resumes: a look at the realistic title contenders

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

…and we’re off! We’re strating with a game decided even before it took place, but we’re off! It has been an interesting winter in Romania, with some important moves on the market. Steaua and CFR Cluj cashed-in big time on their most promising players, Bogdan Stancu and Lacina Traore, with another very good forward by Liga I standards, Ribeiro Moraes, leaving Gloria Bistrita and the country. Even though we haven’t seen any outstanding signings, this should be a very interesting second half of season, with the first division perfectly divided in two categories: title contenders (yes, CFR Cluj, currently in 8th place, still hope to win the league!) and relegation candidates. We have no mid-table teams, a category that should be defined during next month, when we’ll see who had either their hopes or fears killed in the first couple of matches.

Can Otelul hold on and detonate another bomb, just like Unirea Urziceni did two years ago?

Otelul Galati

Otelul kept all the players, which might look good and show ambition, but this was the perfect moment to profit from the rise of Cornel Rapa, the 21 years old right back who’s now an option for the senior national team. They might not get the best price in the summer, unless the excellent physical preparation and tactical discipline from the first half of season will deliver until the end. The league leaders have been discrete as always on the market, signing a second division player and a rather unknown Serbian centre-forward, Bratislav Paunosevac, who could make an impact considering that Otelul lacked options upfront last year. And also generate some profit from a future sale – a trademark buy for the experienced president, Marius Stan. Although they managed to get three points already, Dorinel Munteanu’s men are expected to struggle, with all the stronger clubs taking measures, which translates into extremely motivated opposition in every single game and some dodgy refereeing when it matters. Would be a real surprise to see them holding on until the end…

Poli Timisoara

Undefeated in 18 matches, The Viola will start losing games, as Dusan Uhrin Jr., who returns as a coach, for the fans’ delight, has been asked to take a different approach – try to go for wins and push for a league title that’s in reach.  As usual, Timisoara signed a lot of players, releasing the always over-rated Hristu Chiacu and loaning to Urziceni Ioan Mera, a centre-back that would have had little chances to feature, considering the competition. The experienced Sorin Ghionea was signed on a free transfer, with Nikola Ignijatevic coming from Red Star Belgrade to cover for Sepsi’s imminent departure. Tosaint Ricketts is expected to add pace upfront, something badly missed after Timisoara sold Gigel Bucur to Kuban Krasnodar more than a year ago. This is a solid team all over the pitch and a real title contender, although they miss the players and the coach who can cope with a level of pressure that will increase with every round.

FC Vaslui

Looking at the club’s activity on the market, you might get the wrong idea. The club released Burdujan (forward), Pancu (attacking midfielder), Hugo Luz (left back), Haisan (goalkeeper) and punished severely the Brazilian Gerlem (left midfielder), all of them useful players, who could have helped at least as reliable backup solutions, and couldn’t sign a single name, given the transfer ban that will expire only in June 2011. Still, the old dog Viorel Hizo should be satisfied both in terms of quantity and quality, while these departures could make those who stayed and are a bit more confident about their places in the team to act more responsible and focus on delivering what would be an outstanding and, given the recent investment, a deserved achievement for Porumboiu’s club.

Rapid Bucuresti

In some games, they have played excellent football, looking very strong especially at home, where they simply lay siege on the visiting teams and eventually break them, with the support of one of the hottest crowds in the league. Unfortunately for them, the away form remains a problem at Rapid, no matter the quality of the team or the name of the coach, it has to be down to mentality. I was surprised to see that the club didn’t adress the squad’s biggest problem: adding another quality striker, as the Brazilian Cassio delivers only at home and the talented Sburlea’s too inconsistent and yet to turn into a poacher. They’ve released a few players – Cesinha could have turned some games around! – and signed three players that should add even more strength and quality in defense (the Bugarian international Vidanov) and midfield (the Brazilian Olberdam and the fans’ favorite player, Daniel Pancu). They’re very strong, but the 10 points gap demands from Rapid exactly what they’ve missed in the first half of season: consistency.

Krejci and Rafael sign five years long deals with Poli Timisoara

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment

It has become official: the two players tested during the last break caused by the Euro 2012 qualifiers have signed for one of the most in-form teams in Liga I, Poli Timisoara.

Jiri Krejci is a 24 years old central defender, who came after a short and unsuccessful spell in Greece, with Iraklis, while the Brazilian Carlos Rafael Rocha is a 21 years old left sided player, at his first attempt to impress in Europe. If Krejci will have to fight for his place in the squad, as Poli can rely on the experienced duo Burca-Cisovsky and has also involved as much as possible the promising Luchin and Mera in the past couple of season, Rafael is a much needed backup for Timisoara’s only natural left back, Laszlo Sepsi.

Interesting fact: Rafael was recommended by Poli’s Brazilian wing-back Helder, who is playing on loan from Nancy and has impressed with his outstanding pace and appetite for attacking football, and Timisoara’s coach Cosmin Contra says he was convinced by the left back’s skill, pace and ability to read the game.

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