Szczesny has been heavily rumoured to leave Arsenal this summer and understandably so. He’s spent the last two years at Roma on loan and a decision now has to be made concerning his future at Arsenal, as his contract expires in a year. But the decision to keep Szczesny should be considered.
Most facts, rumours, and speculations, however, point Szczesny towards the exit door. The fact that he spent not one, but two years at Roma could explain Wenger’s faded confidence in him. Rumours are saying Szczesny will only sign a new contract if he is to be the clear first choice goalie, or the compelling suggestion that he would rather succeed Buffon at Juventus in a year or two. Then there’s the fresher speculation about Wenger rating Martinez so highly that instead of signing Szczesny up for a new contract, he’ll be the new number two between the posts from now on.
But Wenger did mention Szczesny when asked about the Arsenal goalies in May, and acknowledged his impressive season saying, “We have Wojciech, who is only on loan at Roma, where he has had an exceptional season.”
I can understand why Wenger loaned him out when he did. After Szczesny’s mediocre 14/15 campaign, Cech joined us, and took over the starting position. But more importantly, Szczesny needed to mature, and his development seemed to have stalled. The unfamiliarity of moving to a different country and surrounding yourself in a new environment with new teammates, coaches, and a new culture definitely supports those ideas. And it worked.
Szczesny has undoubtably become a better and more complete goalie. Not only does he seem to have matured by losing his reckless ways we all know, he’s nearing his prime years at 27, and he’s got stats to back up his positive development as well.
Szczesny played all but four league games for Roma over the two seasons he spent there, displaying manager Spalletti’s obvious trust in him, as they finished third and second in Serie A. He made an impressive 3,11 saves per game during his first year there, and 3,05 during his second. In comparison, Szczesny made only 2,46 saves per game for Arsenal during the 14/15 campaign. Additionally, he kept 14 clean sheets out of 38 games for Roma last season.
So why not put confidence in Szczesny and offer him a new contract as our starting goalie after his successful loan spell? If Juventus thinks of him as Buffon’s successor, surely he’s good enough for us?
If we do not, the lack of a future plan regarding our goalie position is concerning.
Cech is 35 years old and although a great asset on and off the pitch, doubtful to stay at this level for much longer. Ospina looks to be leaving and not really capable of being Arsenal’s starting goalie anyways, and Martinez is inexperienced and unproven at the top level. Unless Martinez is a diamond in the rough, Arsenal will need to buy a new goalie in the next couple of years if Szczesny does leave.
I just hope his loan spell wasn’t too successful. He might have realised he enjoyed life and football in beautiful Italy more, or the warm Italian sun rather than the foggy streets of London.
I recommend you read The Guardian’s interview with Szczesny from back in May here.
Next I will look at Arsenal’s home grown players and next season’s registration situation.