There’s been many promising Romanian players leaving the country in the last decade, most of them without much luck.
But is it down to luck actually? I refuse to believe so.
It has become like a pattern: they leave with big hopes, don’t receive much playtime, get sent on a loan, and eventually return to Romania as free agents…
Let’s have a look at the latest case involving 23 year-old left-winger, Aurelian Chitu.
Start of career
He signed with Viitorul Constanta in 2009, after he caught the eye of Gheorghe Hagi, the club’s chairman.
The team got promoted from the third to the second division in his first season, then spent a couple of years in the second league before getting into the Premiership.
Chitu scored 8 goals in the 2012-2013 campaign, putting a terrific performance against Steaua in the closing games of the season, which proved decisive in avoiding relegation, then got capped for the National Team.
Rumours immediately started surrounding the media about where his next destination would be.
The foreign transfer
Liga 1 outfits Steaua also wanted to sign the player, but Valencienne’s €700.000 bid combined with the €25.000 monthly wage offer – twice what Steaua offered – was more than enough to convince him to sign for the French side.
Played in two friendly games for his new team, getting on the scoresheet in both occasions.
Okay, then what?
Only started once for the first team, having a total of 7 appearances and 126 minutes played as you can see above. He then got sent to Giannina to play in the Greek Superleague. He surely got more playing time there… NOT! Only came on as a sub 3 times totalling just under an hour of playing time there.
And, of course, just a month ago, he got a mutual agreement to end his contract, as his club got relegated and wanted to cut their wage bill.
He’s now playing for Astra. Made his Europa League debut last week against Dinamo Zagreb, coming on in the 57th minute and banging a goal, in a match his team lost 5-1.
What the club says
Valenciennes’ manager, Bernard Casoni said about the case: “I am convinced that he has qualities, but this period began badly for him. He should have wanted to accept this challenge.” He’s also convinced that the player wasn’t mentally ready for the challenge.
The french press added: “Arrived at Valenciennes last season with a flattering reputation, the Romanian has not at all adapted to life in France.”
The former president Jean-Raymond said back when they signed him: “I followed Aurelian for a year and talked with him in the last three months. The contract is for 4 years, I’ve always felt that three years pass very quickly. “
What the player says
“I wasn’t mentally prepared. My contact with French football was harsh. I was used to play every game, but there I only played in a couple of friendlies and then suddenly I have not played any more friendlies nor official matches,” said Chitu.
“I got used to be given confidence. They didn’t give me any there. Then, after I fell down psychologically it was a bit my fault as well. I didn’t have any confidence and I wasn’t playing so my performances in training got affected by that. Confidence is the most important thing for me. I didn’t have any, I didn’t play…”
In contrast with what the president announced, Chitu said: “I’ll never understand one thing: they bought me without knowing how I play, if I’m good or bad.”
When asked how he figured this out, he replied: “They just didn’t see me. They only saw me in the first two friendlies I played for them. Everyone was speaking with me, it was all pretty, but then it all suddenly stopped.”
He confirmed there were no incidents nor any other unknown events that might have influenced his relationship with the club.
I wouldn’t blame the player in this case. Sometimes it’s their fault but this time I strongly believe it’s not. The only mistake coming from his way could be the poor football management in Romania, which doesn’t prepare players very well mentally.
A bigger football management mistake comes from the French club. It is clear they didn’t scout nor talked to him as much as they claimed. They only got an idea of him when he was already there, showing him a great lack of confidence. Another aspect is that they don’t do transfers according to their needs. They might just listen too much to agents who try to convince them to get bargains, even if they don’t have use for them.
These situations don’t serve any of the parties. The player doesn’t get playing time at the age he definitely should, whilst the club loses money and the chance to better improve their squad with players they actually need.