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Ianis Stoica exclusive: €500M price-tag stopped me joining Arsenal; I now follow Man City

In 2017, Ianis Stoica (20) became the youngest goalscorer in FCSB history after a goal in the Romanian Cup against Sanatatii Cluj. Stoica was just 14 years old, and his performance made headlines around the world.

Stoica now plays for Universitatea Cluj where he is on loan until the summer from FCSB, and he dreams of making Europe talk about him again.

The footballer to whom Gigi Becali set a €500 million termination clause in 2018. spoke to Emanuel Rosu of partners Flashscore in an exclusive interview of how close he actually came to an extraordinary transfer to Arsenal two years ago.

If you look at your journey so far, do you think it's done you any good or harm that you started so young and there was all that attention on you after the goal you scored at 14?

Ianis Stoica: "There was a lot of pressure on me. If I had ended up playing in the Premier League, they would have said I was lost.

"There was a lot of pressure, especially as I sometimes played for the junior side. Teammates and opponents looked at me differently, some even saw me as an example. That made me grow up, I had to put things in order from a very young age."

Did you enjoy that or did it put too much pressure on you?

Stoica: "I loved it! It made me responsible, I had a clear schedule. I knew when I had to go to training, when I had to go to the gym and when I had to eat. I had an organised life and that helped me a lot.

"If I hadn't got the lifestyle right early on, maybe today I wouldn't have been able to cope in the top division."

We've talked about the past, but if I were to ask you a job interview-style question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?", what would you answer?

Stoica: "I would love to move abroad, that's for sure. For now, I'm focused on my project in Cluj. I want to finish in the play-offs with them. In the future, I would like to go and play in another league but it's good to not skip stages, to go through everything. I want to have achievements here and I focus on that."

Would you like to join a team with a certain style of play?

Stoica: "I am an attacking player, but as a player, I have to adapt wherever I go. If a top team wants me and they have a defensive style, I'll go there and adapt. I'm not looking for the excuse that I can only play for a team with an offensive style. I have to adapt to the coach's demands.

"That's where I have to play to the best of my ability. But it's too early to talk about me leaving now."



As mentioned, Stoica's breakthrough at 14 brought him to the attention of Europe's biggest clubs, including Arsenal. The Gunners made an attempt for the attacker three years later, only for club owner Gigi Becali to slap a €500m price-tag on his young shoulders. But rather than be left disappointed with Becali's actions, Stoica takes it as a source of pride.

Ianis, exactly two years ago there were articles in England saying that Arsenal wanted you. What do you know about it? Just press information or was it more?

Stoica: "Something. I can't say exactly what, that's not my job. I am a player. It was probably just something between the clubs."

So you're aware that there were discussions between clubs?

Stoica: "Yes, but I really don't know any more than that."

Some time ago, I did an interview with Gigi Becali and he told me that he had confidence in you to bring him a historic transfer fee for Romania. Did he ever say that to you? Did you feel he appreciated you that much?

Stoica: "I was little but he never told me that. I didn't talk to him about things like that."

Did the €500 million clause in your contract motivate you or overwhelm you?

Stoica: "It gave me confidence, but there was also pressure. It was not my decision. I respect the club's position and I know I have to do the job as best I can. I liked the pressure, it didn't bother me. I like to play with pressure."


Stoicaretains ambitions of eventually moving to England in the future, though concedes beyond the Gunners, there is another team he follows closely these days.

What matches do you like to watch, do you like to follow any particular team?

Ianis Stoica: "Manchester City is the team I like the most! It's the team I love to watch play."

If you were to make a dream team and take them to play football with you and your friends, which players would you pick for your team?

Stoica: "Everyone from City! (laughs) Ederson, Walker, De Bruyne. Can we make it six, including me?

"I'd take Bernardo Silva, Haaland, plus Chipciu and Nistor."

- photos from Profimedia

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