The summer transfer window saw the return of the 41-year old club legend, Gianluigi Buffon to the Old Ladies for a second spell, and this has made current first choice, 29-year old Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny very excited for the times ahead.
Speaking to Polish sport media outfit Przeglad Sportowy as reported by Goal, the Juventus shot-stopper joked that he’s the best of them in the world and history now that Gianluigi Buffon, whom he deputized for in the 2017/18 season, has become his backup.
It is easy to overlook his goalkeeping prowess due to him being a Serie A goalkeeper as well as playing for the team who has dominated the league for the better part of fifteen years, but there may be some level of legitimacy to his claims which were passed across in a jocular manner.
Let’s look at the facts.
Looking at the infographic above, we can see how sharp of a goalkeeper Szczesny is. His aerial attribute, however is still rated below 70, but his anticipation could cover for those lapses. Also, with a saves rating of 85, he is a pretty reliable man to have between the sticks.
Even without knowing his ball distribution ratings, we can tell how good he is with the ball. During his time at Arsenal, a team that is known for possession football, he helped start a lot of their fluid counterattacks, a quality he honed over time.
We see from the infographics above how he compares to the goalkeepers of the teams that are considered Juventus’ biggest challengers. He has better anticipation than the experienced Samir Handanovic of Inter, which raises the stakes for him in a goalkeeper battle. Gianluigi Donnarumma of AC Milan has the height advantage over him, so it is expected that he pips Szczesny in aerial and ball distribution attributes (Donnarumma can use his long hands to devastating effect). Meanwhile, compared with Alex Meret, goalkeeper of Napoli who have been their fiercest competition in the past four seasons, he is basically superman.
Szczesny would walk into any of these teams and take the starting positions from their goalkeepers.
Now let’s take a look at how he compares to the best goalkeepers in the world currently.
Looking at how he compares to the three goalkeepers who are considered the best in the world at the moment, we can say for sure that Szczesny’s jokes had a subliminal message behind them.
From the infographics above, Szczesny is only less superior to Liverpool’s Alisson Becker whom he deputized for during his two loan stints at Roma, after his first team opportunities were limited by Arsenal’s signing of Petr Čech in the 2015 summer transfer window. He even praised Alisson during his time there, saying he was the backup to the best goalkeeper in the world.
Szczesny still went on to make 31 league appearances in the first season of his loan, and in the second season, kept the most clean sheets in Serie A (14) which helped Roma set a new club record for most points in the season (87) and earn a second-place finish in the league.
There is no knowing if Szczesny would have taken the starting position from Alisson had they both stayed in Roma after the 2017/18 season, but the trends from that period make a strong case for this claim. Still, with Alisson in Liverpool – the team that greatly improved the Brazilian – there’s not much of a difference in their goalkeeping attributes.
Against Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen as can be seen from the comparison of their attributes, Szczesny holds his ground well enough and could walk into both teams and start, especially Barcelona where ball distribution is a key attribute for goalkeepers to have.
With Buffon back at Juventus, Szczesny is sure to benefit a lot more from the veteran’s experience and get the recognition he really deserves.