If you're like me and loathe the Premiership, you probably aren't terribly familiar with Wojciech Szczesny, and were likely surprised and confused that Roma had grabbed a keeper from Arsenal, let alone one who started for the Gunners at such a young age. Fortunately for us EPL Ignoramuses, Polish legend and former Roma standout Zibi Boniek heaped some praise upon Szczesny while also taking a shot at Arsene Wegner and even Edin Dzeko.
Not only is Boniek perhaps the greatest Polish footballer ever, he is the head of the Polish FA, so his words carry a bit of weight in footballing circles, so let's take a listen to his assessment of the Szczensy and Roma marriage.
I spoke to Szczesny and I'd be very happy if he came to Roma. He is an experienced goalkeeper, very tall and has good technique...There's a big difference between Szczesny and Morgan De Sanctis, as he is on a whole other level. He's good with his feet and can put the ball straight back into play. If this goes through, Roma will have made a good move.
Having a keeper who can kick start a counter, or even just get the ball to fullbacks or wingers with room to run, is certainly a desirable quality, particularly for a keeper as large as Szczesny, but you'll notice he didn't say anything about his actual shot stopping ability. While his comment about De Sanctis is just further evidence as to how criminally underappreciated Morgan has been throughout his career, but when you play second fiddle to Gigi for 15 years, those things tend to happen.
However, as we read earlier this week, Szczesny isn't without controversy, a point to which Zibi spoke:
I've known him for a long time, as he's an international. He had a row with Wenger, who froze him out of the team. He has a few bad habits, like smoking a cigarette after a game, but these are not very serious problems...He will do well at Roma and I'll call him when he arrives to make sure he knows what not to do in the Capital
As far as disciplinary issues are concerned, smoking after match isn't exactly on par with lighting fireworks off in one's home or conspiring to fix matches, but the fact that Boniek feels it's necessary to "speak" with him when he lands, specifically cautioning him about what not to do in Rome, is a bit troubling. Athletes who have tremendous success at such an early age can sometimes become ego maniacal distractions, so let's hope last season was a humbling one for Szczesny.
Zibi also pointed out the hypocrisy in Wenger's claims that Szczesny has a future with the London outfit:
I heard Wenger wants him for the future of Arsenal. That seems a bit of a hypocritical comment, seeing as he sent him away by signing Petr Cech.
Hard to argue with Zibi on this one, at only 33-years-old, Cech isn't exactly on a retirement tour, so Szczesny's future with the Gunners is far from certain. It will be extremely interesting to see if an option to buy is actually included in this deal--there are many Arsenal fans and pundits afraid of losing this kid for good--but Wegner's actions don't portend a stable future for Szczesny at Arsenal, so this could be a tense negotiation.
Lastly, Zibi fired a shot across Walter Sabatini's bow, slamming his pursuit of Edin Dzeko
Roma need a centre-forward. They've been saying for years that Edin Dzeko is phenomenal, but he's 29 years old now. To me he seems a bit washed up and would come here for a final big contract. He's a decent player, but Roma need a real striker who wants to make his mark
While I admitted yesterday there is a certain financial point at which Dzeko would no longer be a shrewd investment (€20m), I'd hardly call him washed up. Besides, while the Euros aren't as prestigious as the World Cup, you can bet that Dzeko is eager to prove he belongs in the Bosnian starting XI next summer, so he should be playing for more than a final payday. After all, Roma's record setting season was facilitated in part by a fit and motivated Maicon gunning for a World Cup Spot. Between Dzeko, Pjanic, Ljajic and even Szczesny, Roma should have no shortage of players with international incentives on their mind.
That's the news for Saturday thus far, if anything breaks, we'll be on it.