How an ex Inverness Caley player scuppered a Premier League move for Ricky Van Wolfswinkel

The Dutchman was a prime target for Newcastle United and Norwich City this January; but an unlikely source of trouble got in the way.

He has become one of the most well-known names in recent transfer columns as well as one of the longest and his almost Brothers Grimm like name has been linked with all manner of teams across the country.

The Sporting Lisbon striker has long been a target for a number of Premier League clubs including Liverpool and Spurs but most recently it was Newcastle United and Norwich City in particular who were reportedly courting his signature.

So with a deal for Gary Hooper clearly out of the question many a Canary fan would have wondered whether the club could have made the move for the Dutchman. Sporting are reportedly open to selling the lad; struggling finances have already seen them dispatch of former Liverpool player Emiliano Insua to Atletico Madrid during the transfer window.

The club are also struggling in the league and looking increasingly likely to miss out on Europe next season so any assets they can sell will help their financial burden immensely.

They hatched a plan to bring in an in-form striker on the cheap and also a player already very popular with the clubs fans. Once that deal was confirmed they could cash in on any interest for Van Wolfswinkel and bathe in the pile of money they made off the deal; before passing that over to a rather incredulous Portuguese tax-man.

The player they had in mind is Marius Niculae; a 31-year-old former Romania captain who played for the club between 2001 and 2005. A fan favourite at the Stadium of Light his early career was unfortunately blighted by a series of knee injuries and despite his obvious talent he slid back to Romanian football; via a spell at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

During his time in Scotland he was named the SPL Player of the Month in December 2007 before leaving after one season in acrimonious circumstances; taking the club to court over unpaid fees.

However after leaving Inverness he has resurrected his career in Romania; scoring in abundance for Dinamo Bucharest and the club he signed for last summer Vaslui. It led Sporting to his signature once again and all was well; leaving Van Wolfswinkel up for grabs.

Except that pesky FIFA rule that has seemingly been doing the rounds in recent months got in the way. The ‘three-club rule’ came into effect as he featured in the Romanian Super Cup for Dinamo before signing for Vaslui. Therefore Sporting could not complete the transfer and any possibility of them selling Van Wolfswinkel disappeared in a heartbeat.

Who would have thought a one season Inver Caley player could have such an impact on the transfer window?

image: © Vincent Teeuwen

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