So far, so good. Amidst the turbulence of an uncertain off-season for Arsenal has come two pieces of business that have helped the club to a relatively smooth start in the summer transfer window: Sead Kolašinac and long-term target, Alexandre Lacazette. While the yet to be sorted futures of Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are causing said turbulence to linger, the handling of their goalkeeping situation could trigger a crash-landing that could destroy any hopes of reaching their desired destination next season.
Coming off a stellar two-year loan spell with AS Roma, Wojciech Szczęsny has returned from his two-year loan spell in the Italian capital more capable and confident than ever before. After a 2015/16 campaign in which the Pole recorded eight clean sheets, a 75% save percentage 72% distribution accuracy rate, he upped his game to new heights in 2016/17 with a Serie A-best 14 clean sheets, a 73% save percentage and becoming one of the league’s best distributors with an 80% accuracy rate.
All that, plus the fact he is 27 years old and only entering his prime suggests that this is a no-brainer for Arsenal. It marks a chance to fill a troubled position free of cost knowing that now 35-year-old Petr Čech has been underwhelming as his replacement the last two seasons and understudy, David Ospina, is likely on the way out. Despite the solution being set on a silver platter for Arsène Wenger, it doesn’t appear as if the club are willing to go all in on their former prodigy, with Juventus looking to tempt him back to Serie A as they seek a worthy successor for Gianluigi Buffon.
If Arsenal really are considering selling Szczęsny, it would be an utterly mindless decision by the club given the instability at the position and the lack of young, top quality goalkeepers available in the market. Though statistics prove he’s a worthy reinvestment for the club, clearly there are still questions among the Gunners brass regarding his prospects as their long-term starter, largely regarding maturity.
When Szczęsny debuted for Arsenal in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford in December 2010, maturity didn’t seem to be much of a question. Aged 20 at the time, he put on a very creditable performance that day and went on to have a solid first season considering he was playing behind a back line reliant on an unpolished Laurent Koscielny, Sebastian Squillaci and Johan Djourou. After another respectable campaign in 2011/12, the wheels started to fall off after being sent off for a reckless challenge in the opening game of Euro 2012 for his native Poland against Greece. His confidence was clearly lacking as underwhelming performances and injuries relegated him to 25 starts in 2012/13, though he did end up with 10 clean sheets and 69% distribution accuracy rate, better than the rate Čech had in either of his two seasons at the Emirates.