The start of July signals the official start of the summer transfer window, and ends loan deals from the previous season. Juventus transfer target, Wojciech Szczęsny, whether he likes it or not is once again an Arsenal player and as doubts of Petr Cech’s long-term ability continue, the Polish goalkeeper should be next in line at the Emirates.
There was a time where the 27-year-old was somewhat of a liability and doubts surrounded whether he could be considered the No.1 in North London, but after his time at Roma, when he was considered as impressive as the legendary Gianluigi Buffon last term, it’s astonishing that he’s not regarded higher under the French boss.
The timing is perfect. David Ospina’s future is up in the air. Linked with moves to Turkey and Major League Soccer, the Colombian is likely to move on and with Szczęsny still only 27-years-old, he is the perfect age to take over from the Czech Republic international.
Cech is 35, which could be considered young for a keeper, but time seems to be catching up with the former Chelsea man and mistakes and injuries are creeping in.
Szczęsny’s Time Will Come
He will undoubtedly start as the first-choice but Szczęsny would know his time wouldn’t be too far away. Rather than make a hasty move away for the English capital, some patience and he could be the Gunners No.1. Unless there are other problems that are kept out of the public domain.
“Just realised that June has finished and I am no longer a player of AS Roma. 2 years of representing this club has given me a great joy and pride!” He posted on Instagram.
“I can’t thank enough the club for the opportunity I was given here, coaching staff for helping me grow as a player, my team mates for all the great moments and victories we shared and the fans for always supporting and getting behind the team. To all of you I will forever be grateful!”
It’s clear that the Polish international enjoyed his time in the eternal city and he would probably welcome a long-term deal at the Giallorossi, but despite owner James Pallota mentioning that he hoped Szczęsny would stay, nothing has been placed on the table, putting his future up in the air.
Career Blossomed At Roma
Arsenal fans unsure over whether they would want him back or not, would have been keen to hear that the goalkeeper himself believes he has improved during his time away.
“The season before I left I had a very bad season – performances, injuries, off field – it was terrible,” he recalled in an interview with The Guardian’s Amy Lawrence. “I could have stayed in an environment that was going negatively for me. Instead the opportunity that came gave me a fresh start.
“You get a new perspective. You get new coaches and influences. You learn new drills. You do new things. Now I am very happy that it happened, even if the first impression was that I might be out of Arsenal, which was very painful. Now I think it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.”
“The biggest thing I have taken away from these two years at Roma is the fact I grew as a goalkeeper. It’s just raising your levels, your standards. I absorbed a bigger knowledge of football, the tactical side of the game.”
“You don’t see me with that rush of blood that I used to have as a younger keeper. It’s not that I don’t feel that rush of blood but tactically you are more aware of when to be involved, when to let the defenders recover.”
Why No Obvious Arsenal Return?
The shot-stopper still loves his parent club, so what’s the problem, well it all comes down to Arsène Wenger and his staff.
“We went to dinner together, [Szczęsny] confirmed that he’d like to remain Giallorossi,” said former Juventus and Polish international Zbigniew Boniek to Centro Suono Sport in March.
“If Wenger stays, I don’t think he’d return to London.”
Szczęsny’s issue isn’t with the French coach himself, but reportedly a problem with goalkeeping coach, Gerry Payton.
The 27-year-old has spoken warmly of his time under Luciano Spalletti, while aiming a thinly veiled criticism of the methods of Wenger and Arsenal head goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton.
When asked about the former Roma boss, the Pole claimed he leaned more in four months than he did in 10 years in England.
“Spalletti highlights the importance of having good feet when playing football,” Szczęsny told Italian publication Gazzetta. “One day we spent 45 minutes practicing just goal kicks.”
“If I stay at Rome, I’ll continue to grow and if I return to Arsenal, I’ll treasure my experience in Italy, even though I’ve learned more in fourth months with Spalletti than I did in 10 years in England.”
Peyton has been the goalkeeping coach at Emirates Stadium for 13 years and is one member of Wenger’s trusted backroom staff who has been there all the way through Szczęsny tenure.
Szczesny’s blunt comments about the Arsenal coaching ways are in stark comparison to his views of Roma goalkeeping coach Guido Nanni.
“Nanni is a great professional and I like working with him because I am never bored,” Szczęsny continued in Gazzetta. “We have a great friendship. If I took a step forward in my career, it’s because of him.”
A difference in methods and the way in which Nanni pushed the goalkeeper, plus his enjoyment of his career in Italy would seemingly be the biggest factors in why Arsenal are willing to push Emiliano Martinez as Cech’s No.2.
Although he hasn’t done publically, a disagreement, or just plain lack of respect for Wenger’s goalkeeping coach could be want stands in the way of Szczęsny taking his place back at the club.
Wenger, being a strong, loyal, if not stubborn man, won’t change his staff for a goalkeeper, which opens the door for the 27-year-old to leave permanently this summer.
There’s little doubt he now has the tools to be a dependable No.1, but the bridges seem too burnt for the Poland international to wait it out and claim his place between the posts in North London.
Arsenal’s loss will definitely be a club’s impressive gain.