FEATURE: CSM Bucuresti and Györ have been the big winners after the collapse of Vardar, bolstering their ranks with top players
Brand-new CSM and strengthened Györ dominate transfer ranking
The transfer market activity has been soaring this summer in the Women’s EHF Champions League, after Vardar, a two-time finalist in the last two seasons, let go of their squad.
A plethora of top free agents has therefore, been available, with several heading for CSM Bucuresti, creating a new incarnation of the Romanian powerhouse, with a strong Balkan aroma.
Meanwhile, Györ have bolstered their flawless defence, while a new force to be reckoned with has formed in Brest.
10. Katarina Bulatovic (Rostov-Don to Buducnost)
The 33-year old right back, a three-time top goalscorer in the Women’s EHF Champions League, is coming home for the third time. Bulatovic already had two stints in the Buducnost shirt, which she has donned for seven seasons.
Buducnost are not the powerhouse they used to be and do not look set to compete for the title, but a familiar face like Bulatovic should help their young core.
9. Elisabeth Omoregie (RK Krim to CSM Bucuresti)
The 21-year old left back has been a constant threat for Krim, due to her speed and technique, scoring at least 28 goals in each of the last three seasons in the Women’s EHF Champions League.
CSM have moved faster than other teams and are looking to help Omoregie learn from the best: she will be Cristina Neagu’s understudy, but will earn serious minutes even in crunch time, bringing a whole other lot of attributes to the table
8. Jovanka Radicevic (Vardar to CSM Bucuresti)
CSM have been actively searching for a right wing, after an underwhelming season from Nathalie Hagman and found the perfect fit in Radicevic. The right wing has the experience, the speed and the sheer will that can propel any team to a win.
Radicevic has also known several of her new teammates for a while and this could help CSM gel even faster than they did last season.
7. Lois Abbingh (Issy Paris to Rostov-Don)
The 25-year old sharpshooter is making her comeback to the European top flight, after a two-year hiatus, while she played for Issy Paris. Abbingh moved to France two years ago following a breakthrough season for HCM Baia Mare, while she scored 60 goals in the Women’s EHF Champions League.
The Dutch international will bring much needed help in the backcourt for the Russian side, who navigated brilliantly the first part of the season, but ultimately failed in Budapest.
6. Ana Gros (Metz Handball to Brest Bretagne)
Gros has been an integral part of Metz’s success in the last seasons in the European competitions. The Slovenian right back has been unstoppable in several games, earning the EHF Player of the Month title in October 2017.
Scoring at least 70 goals in three of the last four season in the European top competition, Gros has established herself as one of the top shooters in the competition, with Brest creating a ferocious back court this season.
5. Dragana Cvijic (Vardar to CSM Bucuresti)
Cvijic is part of a four-player package that left Vardar and signed with CSM Bucuresti, but could be the most impactful transfer yet for the former champions.
The Serbian line player provides a dual threat for her opponents, both in attack and in defence. Her connection with Cristina Neagu has been already forged and proven when both players represented Buducnost, while her defensive nous and strength will boost a sometimes shaky CSM defence.
4. Veronica Kristiansen (FC Midtjylland to Györi Audi ETO KC)
The 28-year old left back has never left Scandinavia until now, but this looked like the right time to do it.
Györ have now five Norwegian players, so Kristiansen’s period of transition should be short and the team should be ready to go from the first game. The Norwegian star scored 91 goals last season and could have challenged for the top goal scorer title if her former team managed to qualify for the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in Budapest.
3. Isabelle Gullden (CSM Bucuresti to Brest Bretagne Handball)
Desperate pleas to stay from a legion of Romanian fans did not manage to sway the balance in CSM’s favour, with Bella Gullden deciding to leave for Brest.
It was a heartbreaking moment for both the die-hard fans and for the fan favourite, but Gullden said it was for the best, with the Swedish ace taking her talents to France for a fresh start. While the Swedish playmaker had an odd off season in 2018, Brest’s fans will surely be excited after the first “no-look” pass Gullden will throw for her new team.
2. Andrea Lekic (Vardar to CSM Bucuresti)
Lekic’s name has been synonymous with competing at the highest level for the last decade, but the Serbian ace has only won one Women’s EHF Champions League trophy, so her hunger to win will not be a question. It will all boil down to how Lekic shares ball-handling duties with Cristina Neagu and if their partnership will be stronger than the one Neagu had with Gullden last season.
One thing is for sure: CSM will surely look grittier with the Vardar legion coming down to Bucharest.
1.Amandine Leynaud (Vardar to Györi Audi ETO KC)
An already strong goalkeeping area has been vastly improved by the current title holders with Leynaud’s transfer. The 32-year old French star won the gold medal with the national team at the World Championships last year, an integral part of the success, while also starring at club level, by becoming the MVP of the Women’s EHF FINAL4.
The toughest defence in the competition has been bolstered by another stellar addition and this can only mean Györ are favourites to win the title for the fifth time in seven years.
TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / cor
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