After a hiccup in the negotiations in early August, Steaua Bucharest center back and Romanian international Vlad Chiricheș could still be on his way to the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur was on the brink of closing the deal when Steaua owner Gigi Becali canceled it.
The kicker: Becali was in jail when he made the call, serving a three-year sentence for shady business involving land exchanges. He used his one allowed phone call per day to call general manager Mihai Stoica and kill Chiricheș’s transfer.
Chiricheș’s agent is Victor Becali, Gigi’s brother. He told DigiSport last week that the player was set to sign for “over €1 million a year, plus a house and a car, for five years. If he came on well, his salary would have increased after the first year.”
The €8 million transfer fee on the table would have made Chiricheș the most expensive Romanian to leave Liga 1 to date. AS Roma also put in a bid for the 23-year-old defender with 19 caps to his name.
Steaua’s rationale for keeping Chiricheș was that he was vital to the club’s UEFA Champions League qualification campaign. However, he mysteriously withdrew from the squad just before Wednesday’s 1-1 tie with Legia Warsaw, sparking rumors that the move was back on.
“I tried to get over it as quickly as possible,” Chiricheș said in a prematch press conference on Tuesday about his failed transfer. “I really don’t think it looked in the games afterward like I was affected.”
Official word was that he picked up a knock in training the day before the match against Legia, perhaps aggravating a hip injury that already existed. Romanian scout and reliable transfer market bellwether Radu Baicu had a cryptic update on Chiricheș’s situation Thursday:
— Radu Baicu (@rbaicu) August 22, 2013
To be fair, Baicu doesn’t say where Chiricheș will go. But for now, it seems Tottenham’s bid to strengthen its back line could be close to completion.