Southampton have concluded 11th-hour terms with Romanian midfielder Nicolae Stanciu, who could be announced as early as midweek at St. Mary’s.
It’s a giant leap forward for 23 year old Stanciu, currently of Romanian giant Steaua Bucharest, and a logical next step for the midfielder who first caught the world’s eye this summer at Euro 2016.
Though the Romania side Stanciu featured in went out in group stage at that tournament, many noted the heart and intensity with which the Tricolorii played, grinding out a draw against heavily-favoured Switzerland and impressing in defeat to Albania and hosts France. While Southampton’s newest target failed to score in that competition, the 23 year old does boast 4 goals through 7 international caps at senior level, hardly a poor return.
Playing for 90
In domestic play, Nicolae Stanciu has established himself as a proven and deadly goalscoring force in a side that has long been a giant of the Romanian league. He enters the 2016-17 season coming off a career-high 12 goals in 28 league appearances, registering 14 goals in 39 total appearances for the Roș-Albaștrii (“Red and Blues”) last year.
This season also sees the attacking midfielder off to a cracking start, with 1 goal in the league through 4 appearances and 3 goals in as many appearances in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Southampton are understood to have been interested in acquiring the Romanian’s services since at least early summer, when initial media links reported a fee of roughly £5-7m, though it is believed that the Saints did not initially finish the deal pending negotiations elsewhere. With those options now reportedly stalled or off the table, the South Coast club have returned to Bucharest, who now value their attacking mid at £9m in consideration of his performance and the lateness of the hour.
While it isn’t the marquee, club-record-smashing end of window signing that Southampton fans have been waiting on bated breath for, the signing of Nicolae Stanciu fulfills a major need at attacking midfield. A dedicated central attacking mid has been lacking in the early going, with Dusan Tadic forced into the role rather than his favored position on the wings or playing two-up-top.
The entry of a player who has been compared to national legends Gheorghe Hagi and Adrian Mutu, and praised for his abilities as a two-footed playmaker and finisher, is exactly what Southampton need to round out their attacking third. At £9m, he’s a bargain buy from a league that’s off the beaten track of Premiership player-hunting, what fans might refer to as a “Black-Box signing,” in reference to the software database that reportedly makes transfer decisions at St. Mary’s.
However the club arrived at him, it looks like Nicolae Stanciu is just what the doctor ordered for Southampton, and fans should be excited to see him don the red-and-white in the coming weeks.