Romanian Gabriel Torje: The Player That Was Meant To Be The New Hagi!


A lot was expected of Gabriel Torje when he joined Udinese from FC Dinamo București for a €7m fee in the summer of 2011.

His small stature, quick feet, electric pace and his ability from set-pieces would mean inevitable comparisons between Torje and Romanian footballing legend Gheorghe Hagi.

In fact it was Hagi who gave Torje his professional debut at Politehnica Timișoara at the tender age of 16.

It was in Bucharest playing for the Red Dogs that Torje became well known with European football’s top scouts. His ability to beat players, create assists, score from freekicks and run at defenders showed many of them that he was a rough diamond that could become a superstar given the right environment and attitude.

At the time a move to the little Zebras in Udine seemed like the perfect move for the youngster. Udinese were known for their ability to spot good young players and help develop them into stars.

The main star that they had helped create was Alexis Sanchez and he had just departed the Stadio Friuli for Barcelona in a €26m deal during the same summer that Torje had arrived.

The expectation was that in time Gabriel Torje would fill the void left by Sanchez and become Udinese’s next exciting star.

He started off well with a fine performance for the Italian club in his debut against Lecce, where his thrilling display was topped off with an assist.

But inconsistent performances soon followed and that would be the main narrative during his debut season in Serie A. All in all he would feature in twenty-two games and score just twice.

By the time of his big move to Italy, Torje had already made his senior debut for the Romanian national sidescoring his first international goal in early 2011 against Cyprus.

After his unspectacular season with Bianconeri Friuliani it was felt that Torje would benefit from a loan move to Udinese sister club Granada in Spain. Things improved for the winger whilst he was there and he was considered a success story amongst the club’s fans. At Granada he would score three goals, including a nice finish against Real Betis.

But alas he wasn’t deemed good enough to return to Italy and was instead loaned out to Espanyol the following season. That would be yet another frustrating year as he only started six times for the La Liga side.

He would then return to Udinese only to be farmed out yet again for the 2014/15 season to Konyaspor. That season would see the wide-man score six teams, his best return since his Dinamo days.

But again his performances out on loan weren’t deemed good enough by those in charge at Udinese and last season he spent the year back in Turkey this time at Osmanlıspor. He would make eighteen appearances for the Ankara side, scoring three and creating six assists.

It’s said that Osmanlıspor would be keen to keep Torje at the club if a deal can be arranged with Udinese. Polish side Legia Warsaw are also rumoured to be interested in the winger as long as the Italian side lower their €4m valuation on a player that they clearly have no future for.

Even though his dream move to Italy turned sour, Romania have still regularly called upon Torje’s services.

He’s helped the national squad qualify for their first major tournament since Euro 2008. They open the 2016 tournament up with a game against hosts France on the tenth of June in Paris.

Now at twenty-six years of age, Gabriel has picked up fifty caps and scored eleven times for his country. No one in this current Romania squad has as many international goals to their name and only veteran right-back Răzvan Raț has won more caps for Tricolorii.

He comes into the Euros with two goals in the last week, against Ukraine and Georgia. But even with that there is still speculation that his place on the right wing might be handed to Adrian Popa.

The younger Nicușor Stanciu will wear the much coveted number ten shirt, made famous by Hagi in the nineties. It’s another sign of how things just haven’t worked out as it was meant to for Gabriel Torje.

It is hard to be considered that next big thing. The expectation can often be too hard to carry. But it really does look like the comparisons with Hagi and Sanchez were a problem for Torje. It seems he was never allowed to just be himself.

Romania didn’t lose in qualifying and concede just twice in their ten matches. Creating and scoring goals seemed to be their problem. With the new format allowing more sides to go through, then it could be a real dog fight between Romania, Albania and Switzerland to try and join favourites France into the knockout stages.

So can Torje finally deliver this summer?

Well I’m not too sure, it seems he might of peaked as a player in Football Manager.

I just hope he can have a decent tournament, then settle down at a new club and finally find a proper home!

One Response to “Romanian Gabriel Torje: The Player That Was Meant To Be The New Hagi!”

  1. France will meet Romania in today’s game played at Stade de France. In their last meeting, the match ended with a draw, with 0-0. I wonder if Iordanescu’s team prepared us with a surprise for today. I would expect for this game to be quite balanced and finish in a draw. It should be interesting to see if Griezmann will score during this match as he has a good average in terms of goals scored / match.

Leave a Reply