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City capture 46-goal striker

Director general Esposito mentors Cekulajevs transfer from Trans Narva

Aleksandrs Cekulajevs... new Valletta FC signing.

Aleksandrs Cekulajevs... new Valletta FC signing.

Valletta may have missed out on Nigeria forward Stephen Makinwa but they believe they have now pulled off a bigger transfer coup after signing highly-rated forward Aleksandrs Cekulajevs.

He may not be a stellar name in European football, but Cekulajevs’s stock is rapidly on the rise as the 26-year-old is up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in UEFA’s Golden Boot rankings after scoring a remarkable 46 goals for Estonian top-division side JK Trans Narva in the season just finished in eastern Europe.

Cekulajevs’s outstanding tally made him hot property during the January transfer window as top clubs in Greece and Turkey were reportedly keen to sign him.

Having been alerted to Cekulajevs by their contacts, Antonio Esposito, Valletta’s director general, and his right-hand man Mauro Di Lello moved swiftly to register their interest in the Latvian striker.

Their efforts to persuade Cekulajevs, who also played in Iceland and the Czech Republic leagues for Vikingur Olafsvik and Nachod Destne respectively, to join Valletta have paid off as yesterday he flew in to Malta to finalise his move to the BOV Premier League champions.

The capture of a prolific striker with a proven track record will surely delight Valletta president Victor Sciriha who prides himself on luring top-level players to the club.

“I’m confident that Aleksandrs Cekulajevs will enhance the quality in our squad,” Sciriha told The Times.

“This player scored 46 goals in Estonia’s top league last season and that says everything about his potential.”

Valletta’s seemingly endless pursuit of foreigners, spearheaded by Esposito, has inevitably caused a few eyebrows to be raised as many questioned the wisdom of having around nine overseas players when only four can play in domestic competitions.

Cameroon midfielder Patrice Feussy is also expected to be awarded a contract by Valletta and Sciriha explained that the club’s objective is to strengthen their squad for next season’s European commitments.

“Our squad is already very strong for competitions at home,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do is bring in high-level foreign players now to reinforce the squad and improve our chances of advancing in Europe next season.

“Everyone knows that Valletta’s aim is to make progress on the continent and we’re working hard to fulfil that objective.

“And in Europe, we can field more foreign players.”

Cekulajevs, who also scored 51 goals in one season in the Latvian second division a few years back, was expected to sign a one-year contract with Valletta.

Provided that his registration is completed by Friday evening, he could be included in the City squad for Sunday’s crunch match against Birkirkara.

2012 Golden Boot ranking (provisional)

Player Team League Goals Worth Points
1. Ronaldo Real Madrid Spain 24 2.0 48.0
2. Cekulajevs Trans Narva Estonia 46 1.0 46.0
3. Van Persie Arsenal England 22 2.0 44.0
3. Messi Barcelona Spain 22 2.0 44.0
5. Yilmaz Trabzonspor Turkey 25 1.5 37.5
6. Doumbia CSKA Russia 24 1.5 36.0
7. Gomez Bayern Munich Germany 17 2.0 34.0
8. Di Natale Udinese Italy 16 2.0 32.0
9. Huntelaar Schalke 04 Germany 16 2.0 32.0
10. Ba Newcastle England 16 2.0 32.0
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