The Columbus Crew is set to splash the cash. The Black & Gold will sign 21-year-old Romanian midfielder Alexandru Matan from FC Viitorul Constanta for an approximately $1.8 million transfer fee, a source confirmed to Massive Report. This was first reported by Jacob Myers. The youngster will become the first Romanian player to play for the Crew and add another attacking midfielder to the roster.
Matan spent the entirety of his young football career in Romania’s Liga I with Viitorul Constanta, a club located in Ovidiu and founded by Romanian soccer legend Gheorghe Hagi. Hagi is still the club’s owner since founding Viitorul in 2009. Matan had been with the club since 2016 before making his move to the 2020 MLS Cup champions. In his time at Constanta, he played in 66 games in all competitions, scoring five goals and providing 12 assists. Viitorul won its first league title in club history in 2016-17.
Outside of his appearances in Liga I, Matan has also become a fixture of the Romanian youth national teams. In October of 2016, he made his first of three total caps with the Under-17 squad. His breakthrough came just a year later when he moved up to Romania’s U-19 team as he amassed eight goals in six games before moving up to the U-21 setup. Matan has made seven caps with the U-21 team since he was 18 years old. He will turn 22 on April 29 with the hope he can become a member of the senior national team.
Matan’s place within the Crew’s roster is likely as a secondary attacking midfield option that focuses on playing centrally but can play out on the wings. Matan is likely to work as a backup option to playmaker Lucas Zelarayan and could be an effective substitute under Caleb Porter, something the Crew lacked in its 2020 championship team. Another possibility is Matan having to step into a starting role during the summer when the Gold Cup takes place. Three Crew wingers could be headed to that tournament in Luis Diaz (Costa Rica), Derrick Etienne (Haiti) and Kevin Molino (Trinidad & Tobago).
Matan will occupy an international roster slot and join his first club outside of his native Romania. He will become the seventh new player to join the Crew in 2021 and will join the team soon for preseason in preparation for the season opener on April 8 against Real Esteli in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Crew’s current 2021 roster:
Goalkeepers (4): Evan Bush, Eric Dick, Matt Lampson, Eloy Room
Defenders (9): Harrison Afful, Waylon Francis, Marlon Hairston, Aboubacar Keita, Grant Lillard, Jonathan Mensah, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Vito Wormgoor
Midfielders (11): Artur, Luis Diaz, Derrick Etienne, Jr., Perry Kitchen, Alexandru Matan, Aidan Morris, Kevin Molino, Darlington Nagbe, Isaiah Parente, Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayan
Forwards (3): Miguel Berry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Gyasi Zardes