Gigi Becali

Romanian center back Vlad Chiricheș might still move to Tottenham

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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.

(MORE: Vlad Chiricheș: Eastern Europe’s next big export?)

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:

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.

Málaga owner’s race card takes sore losing to a new level

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It takes a lot to contain your emtoin when your team suffers a shock loss, so understand why Málaga chairman Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani let his need to vent get the best of him Tuesday night. But what came out via his Twitter account is a small string of ignorance I would dare any chairman to match if I didn’t the dull feeling somebody like Gigi Becali might actually try.

After Borussia Dortmund’s two stoppage time goals knocked Málaga out of Champions League, Al Thani tweeted his hopes that UEFA thoroughly investigate the obvious racism that took place at the Westfalenstadion, racism nobody else observed and Al Thani failed to explain:

source:

He knows we can see that, right?

Let me try to wrap my head around this one, Sheikh Al Thani. If my inferences are correct, you’re imagining a scenario where Málaga was punked, given 180 minutes over seven days to believe they had a legitimate chance to make the Champions League semifinal. Then racism — in some form, but against whom, exactly? — rears its ugly head and ends the Champions League hopes of a club which, although you now clearly love it, your family quasi-abandoned this summer.

If that’s the case, what a brilliantly executed plan, so deft in its execution that the symptoms were impossible to detect. Because there we were, millions around the globe, thinking that Málaga were going through to the semifinals before Marco Reus and Felipe Santana got help from some racists – people who finally decided to step in and give Dortmund their pre-determined result.

That’s what you’re envisioning, right Mr. Al Thani? If so, what incredible cool to risk Willy Caballero saving either of those stoppage time shots, potentially foiling this obvious agenda of bigotry and race-hate. That was some awfully cavalier racist match-fixing.

But no matter how much I load this up with sarcasm, Grantland staff writer Brain Phillips did more in his 140-allotted characters than I could hope to accomplish in this entire post:

Where’s Keith Olbermann when you need to pick out a Worst Person In The World? I know in the day and age of the North Korean crisis that award may be a no contest, but Al Thani still managed to throw his hat in the ring.