The secret transfers of Romanian wonderkid Cristian Manea & his fake move to Chelsea

The story of Cristian Manea

Amid all the breaking stories springing out of football’s largest ever data dump lead by Football Leaks, the tale of Romanian wonderkid Cristian Manea stands out for it’s shadiness.

Chelsea fans will likely recognise Cristian Manea’s name, as a few years ago he reportedly signed for the Blues.

But there was a snag in that deal. It never happened.

Let’s start at the beginning

Cristian Manea is a versatile, ball playing defender became Romania’s youngest ever senior international in 2014, playing the full 90 minutes against Albania as a fresh faced 16-year-old.

At the time, Manea was on the books of Romanian side Viitorul Constanta, however weeks after his international debut, the young defender signed for Cypriot club Apollon Limassol for 2.5 million euros.

As explained by the good people at The Black Sea website, the Apollon Limassol deal was dodgy to it’s core:

The 2.5 million figure was high for a Cypriot club for an underage player. More strange was that, at the time of the transfer, Manea was valued at 300,000 Euro by comprehensive football website TransferMarkt.

Even more strange was that this deal took place in secret. There was no public announcement. Manea continued to play for Viitorul as though such a huge transfer for such a young player had never happened.

Despite a 2.5 million Euro move to Apollon Limassol, Manea never went to the club. Nor did he even visit the Mediterranean island.

It’s now widely assumed that Apollon Limassol bought the image rights of the football, with no intention of ever having him play for the club.

Apollon Limassol became third party owners in Manea – a practice with has since been outlawed by FIFA.

Chelsea enter the picture

Manea ended up staying at Viitorul Constanta, and in 2015 his career had another shady twist.

In July 2015, it was announced by the likes of Reuters that the Romanian teenager had agreed a move to Chelsea.

The secret transfers of Romanian wonderkid Cristian Manea & his fake move to Chelsea
Reuters claimed it was ‘done deal’

A a reaction to those reports, the smash-hit computer game Football Manager included Manea in Chelsea’s squad for the 2015-16 season.

But Manea never arrived at Chelsea, and in 2015 he ended up moving to Belgium club Mouscron-Péruwelz on loan.

Crazily, Mouscron officially claimed they signed Cristian Manea on loan from Chelsea. In fact, the defender was owned by Apollon Limassol.

It’s now been confirmed that the Chelsea-Manea deal was fake. It never happened, and Rueters were duped.

The Black Sea website again do a great job of explaining what happened:

Reuters published news about the transfer of a player between two clubs, one of which (Chelsea) did not own him, and the other (Apollon Limassol) which never planned to own him.

A graphic breaking down the confusing career of Cristian Manea is below.

The secret transfers of Romanian wonderkid Cristian Manea & his fake move to Chelsea