As ever during the January transfer window, the panic button will be firmly pressed by clubs looking for a goalscorer to get them out of the shit. Radu Baicu looks at Romania's two most likely exports.
CFR Cluj's Lacina Traore has already been linked with more teams than the number of goals he will manage to score before he leaves the club that bought him for 40,000 Euros. Steaua Bucharest's Bogdan Stancu was a more expensive buy back in 2008, but that was due to Steaua’s habit of announcing transfer fees that would make the masses marvel and potential buyers laugh in disbelief. Stancu will be cheaper than Traore, is in less demand than the Ivorian, but is definitely another option, if you are looking for a striker with potential and insist on buying from a strange market. Like Romania.
Current form: Facing similar competition for a starting place in their teams, Stancu and Traore have started the season with different objectives. If the Ivorian decided during the second half of last season that he needs to move away from Cluj as soon as possible, Stancu didn't look further than Steaua, even though the most renowned Romanian club had been underachieving for years. This shows in their individual performances. Traore shows glimpses of his immense potential in selfish displays that rarely help CFR, while Stancu simply proved the best and most consistent player in a team that boasts many quality players, but currently lacks cohesion. No wonder the Romanian has 10 goals in Liga I (almost double the amount scored last season) in 13 games, while the Ivorian netted four goals and bagged two red cards, which perfectly illustrates the youngster’s current state of mind.
Potential: Difficult to predict and compare, of course, as they're very different in terms of style, physique and character, and because - here comes the cliché! - football isn't an exact science. The Ivorian has the age advantage - it's fair to say that he could have been delivering just as well as Stancu does this season if he was 23, not 20. However, with his current mentality and lacking proper guidance, Traore borders between making it and blowing it! Nature has been generous with Traore, though, and there's a natural talent hidden in the big centre forward. This is something we can see in Stancu as well, but who has the disadvantage to look quite ordinary. Looking at the two players, you can't help but think that you could build a team around Traore (speaking of the finished article, obviously), while Stancu is the type of player that could win matches for the right team.
The 4 or 5 million Euro question is, do you go for an explosive 20-year-old striker, who can either turn into something spectacular or blow himself to pieces, or aim lower and buy a quiet and already established 23-year-old front man? The answer will follow shortly, probably in January.
To get the latest updates on Romanian football, please visit Radu’s top notch blog, Scouting Romania. If you want to sport that Florea Dumitrache look, try this.