FC Rapid Bucuresti have completed the signing of CF Gloria Bistrita 1922 playmaker Lucian Sanmartean.
The 23-year-old, rated as one of the most talented young players in Romania, has joined Rapid as a straight replacement for former captain Constantin Schumacher who recently joined Chinese club Yunnan Hongta. "It's not my aim to replace Schumacher or to make him forgotten in the hearts of Rapid's fans," said Sanmartean. "I want only to play well.
Rapid is for me a launching pad."
The playmaker has been with Gloria for nearly three years, scoring seven goals in 77 league appearances. He was formerly captain of the Romanian Under-21 side but has only made one appearance for the senior national side. Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu recently encouraged Sanmartean to leave Gloria in order to establish himself among the top players in Romania. "Sanmartean can improve only if he comes to a powerful Bucharest team," he said.
A verbal agreement over the transfer had been made between Gloria and league leaders Rapid before the new year, but the deal was delayed until today in case a club from outside Romania came in for the player. There was interest from Russian sides PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Dinamo Moskva and Italy's Torino Calcio and Piacenza FC, but no concrete offers.
Needed at home
Besiktas JK coach Mircea Lucescu, a former coach of Rapid, admitted that he had agreed not to take Sanmartean to his new club after agreeing with his close friend and Rapid's main shareholder, George Copos, that the player should stay in Romania. "At his age and at this stage, Romanian football needs Sanmartean at home, not abroad," said Lucescu.
Media reports have suggested a fee of €250,000 being paid for Sanmartean but the clubs involved have not revealed any figures. Gloria will take a 40 per cent share of Sanmartean's transfer fee should he move abroad. A clause in his contract ensures it will take a minimum transfer fee of €2.5m for that to happen.
'The new Platini'
"I could compare Sanmartean with Michel Platini, but Sanmartean doesn't yet have the necessary mentality," said former Romanian international Gheorghe Hagi. Rapid vice-president Razvan Lucescu said: "Sanmartean is a very good asset, but he must understand that we got to the top of league without him and that he needs us more than we need him."
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