Dinamo – Florin Bratu (29 years old, right winger/forward)
Injured in October 2008, Bratu returned on the pitch after a 13 months long nightmare, but only played one game for Dinamo’s reserve team, in the second division. He had suffered a severe injury to his knee and was poorly treated while in Romania, but made a complete recovery after spending the last few months in Italy. It remains to be seen if he can display the same pace, confidence and coolness in front of goal, but he has enough time during this long winter break to regain his match fitness and be ready to make an impact in the second half of season.
Bratu has a solid scoring record for the Red Dogs, with 27 goals in 61 matches, while the injury suffered in 2008 came after he had scored 7 times in 9 appearances. His return will bolster an impressive attacking force, as he will compete with the likes of Marius Niculae, Claudiu Niculescu and Andrei Cristea, but will also be an alternative to Gabriel Torje, for the right winger role.
Steaua – Ovidiu Petre (27 years old, central defensive midfielder)
Tormented by injuries, he should finally have a chance to make an impact for Steaua, after recovering completely from his fourth knee surgery of a career that looked very promising indeed. 11 matches last season and only 4 during the current campaign is obviously too little from a player that showed only glimpses of what he could offer to the red and blue outfit.
Strong anchorman, Petre should not only provide the needed cover for a renewed defensive line, but he will also inject a dose of leadership in a team that lost influent figures like Radoi and Ghionea.
Unirea Urziceni – Marius Onofras (29 years old, forward)
Missed almost the entire second half of last season due to a strange injury to his right knee and played only 10 games in the league in the current campaign. A key player in Dan Petrescu’s tactical setup, with a very interesting role on the pitch, where he was always switching between attack and midfield, helping in recovering the ball and then running the channels up front, on paths learned to perfection in training, reminded everyone of his importance with the excellent goal scored in the Champions League against Glasgow Rangers.
Outstanding work-rate and determination, plus the good scoring instincts and solid understanding with key centre-forward Marius Bilasco, make Onofras a valuable asset for Unirea, but we should see if new coach Ronny Levy realizes his importance for the team. In the current campaign, played only 10 games in the league (four starts), scoring 4 goals, and made four appearances as a sub in the Champions League group stage, scoring once.
FC Timisoara – Cristian Mejia (19 years old, forward)
The skilful Colombian forward has arrived in Romania three months ago, but FC Timisoara could not register his transfer due to a conflict between the club that raised Mejia and the club that sold him to Timisoara. Has played only in a friendly match and coach Ioan Ovidiu Sabau hopes that he can add pace and creativity up front and that the time wasted so far at least helped the player adjust to the new lifestyle and blend into the squad.
FC Timisoara – Milos Brezinsky (25 years old, central defender)
Severely injured to his left knee in December 2008, the towering centre-back missed an entire year, but is now back to full fitness and should play as a regular in the second half of season. Has played 21 matches for FC Timisoara since his transfer from Slovan Liberec (after a loan spell at Sparta Prague) and looked strong, confident and a influent figure at the back. Should further improve a strong defense, which relied mostly on the work done by the entire team and a consistent and efficient centre-back like him could allow the coach to replace one of the two central defensive midfielders with a more attacking minded player.
- The Dayro Moreno case took a new turn, as the player looks very determined to leave Romania. In the time spent here, he tried to convince Steaua’s board to accept a bid from Once Caldas, although the Bucharest side had already shook hands with FC Timisoara. Moreno held talks with Timisoara, but surprised everyone with his demands. Knowing what the club is ready to offer (around 200.000 EUR / season), the attacking midfielder asked 300.000 EUR / season, while at Steaua he was getting only 60.000 EUR / season. His strategy angered Timisoara’s president Marian Iancu, who decided to withdraw from any negotation and Moreno returned to Colombia, where he could get good news (Steaua accepts an inferior offer from Once Caldas) or a bad news (Steaua suspends the player for the reminder of his contract).
- The veteran defender Cosmin Contra (34) is looking forward to a return to his beloved club FC Timisoara. Only a reserve player at Getafe in the first half of season, Contra is tempted by a return home given Timisoara’s chances of winning the title. This won’t be a premiere for the expert right back, as he did it once before, when he was an Atletico Madrid player, back in 2005.
- Steaua has not given up on two of its targets and the club is pushing hard for a deal with AEL Limassol regarding central defender Edwin Ouon (29), desperately wanted by coach Mihai Stoichita, after the red and blue outfit parted ways with Ionut Rada and skipper Sorin Ghionea. Steaua raised its offer from 300.000 EUR to 700.000 EUR. The same transfer fee could be paid also for FC Brasov’s right back, Rui Duarte (29). The Portuguese is probably the best player in the league on this position and is currently in a middle of a scandal with his club, having refused to return to Romania and start training for two weeks now.
Steaua’s captain, Sorin Ghionea (30), is very close to a move to Russian first division, after the Bucharest side accepted a 100.000 EUR bid for the experienced centre-back. If the player will accept personal terms with FC Rostov, which is very likely, he will leave Steaua after eight consecutive seasons and almost 130 matches in the league for the red and blue outfit. In Russia, he’ll get to work again with coach Oleg Protasov and I believe that every coach who got the chance to train Ghionea in the past wouldn’t think twice, not at this incredible price. Ghionea has quality, experience, leadership, solid work ethic and all these should compensate for the indeed visible loss of pace and agility, especially at a club like Rostov. Good deal for the Russians!
- Steaua is ready to sell its captain, Sorin Ghionea (30). The owner Gigi Becali wants 200.000 EUR, 150.000 EUR, 100.000 EUR for the central defender. Ok, the guy lost some pace, but he’s a solid, experienced, two-footed centre-back, the commander of a solid defense and the leader of the locker-room. Too bad he has a big salary.
- CFR Cluj wants to get rid of experienced winger Bogdan Mara (32). He’s free to find himself a club, with Steaua and Dinamo showing some interest recently. Hasn’t been released yet, but he’s been informed that he won’t travel with the club to Antalya, for a training camp. Because he has a big salary.
- Rapid’s all-time top scorer in European competitions Mugurel Buga (32) is currently out of contract and looking for a club. Linked with Greek first division side Xanthi Skoda, he’s still un-attached. The forward missed only three games this season and scored 6 times in 14 appearances (10 starts). But he earned too much!
- According to FIFA agent Cristea Opria, a Top 5 club from 1.Bundesliga apparently offered around 2,5 mil. EUR for Gabriel Torje (Right winger, Dinamo Bucharest, born 1989). Dinamo refused and would say “yes” for 4 mil. EUR.
- Steaua and FC Vaslui are trying to exchange two key players: central defender and team captain Sorin Ghionea with the prolific midfielder Marko Ljubinkovic. It seems that Ghionea refuses the move and waits for an offer from abroad, having an attractive asking price given his quality, experience and age (only 30): 200.000 EUR.
- Steaua is trying to sign Bulgarian centre-back Zhivko Zhelev. The 30 years old is out of favor at Otelul Galati and in the last six months of his current contract, but also suspended after he protested for not getting paid according to his contract. The deal will probably finalize, although Otelul refuses to let him go for free at Steaua, but on the other hand will never get 200.000 EUR for a player in a similar situation.
- Romanian press quotes http://www.tuttomercatoweb.com, who announces Arsenal’s interest for Lacina Traore from CFR Cluj and an offer of 4 mil. EUR. CFR’s president, Iuliu Muresan, denied the rumor, but confirmed the interest from abroad and also a “concrete offer from an important club”. The press talks about Napoli and a failed attempt to sign the promising striker for 1,2 mil. EUR.
- The Dutch coach Mark Wotte is expected to sign with Universitatea Craiova, after the club’s owner failed to convince former NT coach Victor Piturca. Wotte should get around 150.000 EUR per season. In case the deal won’t be finalized, Craiova also looks at another Dutch trainer – Luc Nijholt.