Transfer buzz has surrounded Arsenal after Arsene Wenger relegated first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to the bench, but the longtime manager is making the right move by publicly supporting his young shot-stopper.
Szczesny’s compatriot Lukasz Fabianski was selected over him in the Gunners’ Champions League match against Bayern Munich and their English Premier League fixture against Swansea City. This prompted the press to grill Wenger over whether or not the 22-year-old Poland international had a future at the Emirates.
Giuseppe Muro of The London Evening Standard reported his response:
Of course. Who gave Wojciech a chance from nowhere in the youth teams? It was me. That is because I rate him highly and have a big respect for what he has done. But we all have ups and downs physically and mentally and he has played many, many games this season. Maybe I should have rested him in the cup games but I did not.
The rumors of Szczesny’s exit continue a recent trend of speculated exits due to lineup decisions.
Muro notes that recent gossip also points to Thomas Vermaelen leaving the Emirates, as he, too, was left of the pitch when Arsenal faced Bayern.
All of this comes just when talk about Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United exit was dying down. The Red Devils star was rumored to have fallen out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s favor when the United boss kept him out of the starting 11 during the team’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid.
In all likelihood, these are mostly knee-jerk reactions to seemingly surprising lineup decisions. Wenger and Ferguson are not going to be concerned with the summer transfer window in the midst of a European campaign.
Both Arsenal and United have to play a daunting schedule while competing in multiple competitions, and this forces managers to make tough decisions in order to ensure that their sides do not get unnecessarily fatigued.
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Wenger was forthcoming about the rationale behind his decision to switch goalkeepers, noting that he should have found more time to rest Szczesny leading up to the match with Bayern.
In addition, Ferguson has been open about the tactical reasons for using Rooney as a substitute against Madrid, as the Daily Mirror’s David McDonnell notes.
The Gunners boss likely has the same opinion of the young goalkeeper as he did before these recent matches. Szczesny has the athletic gifts to be a world-class keeper, but he has not yet learned the nuances of the position.
This leads to occasional costly lapses, as is the case with most shot-stoppers his age. With time, he certainly has the talent to develop into an excellent player.
Wenger is smart to stand firmly behind Szczesny with his comments to the press and leave no doubt about his desire to keep him at the Emirates.
While there is always a possibility that another club will make an offer too tempting to refuse for Szczesny, Vermaelen or Rooney, the finances of the deal will be the main factor in the decision to sell any one of these players this summer.
The lineup decisions in recent matches will not play any role when it comes time determine these players’ futures, and for now, both coaches are handling this situation perfectly by throwing full support behind their stars.