I can’t help but believe that Wojciech Szczesny signing for Juventus in the summer had a knock-on affect for the rest of the squad.
Even though most of the current Arsenal squad never met Woj while he was in north London, I firmly believe that Arsene Wenger’s decision to sell him against the wishes of the fans had a knock-on affect.
Firstly, the squad will have been aware of how well Woj was doing on loan at Roma. People would have still been in contract with the 27-year-old and most footballers also keep up with others leagues, such as Serie A and La Liga.
Allowing an up-and-coming pair of safe hands to leave in favour of keeping David Ospina, I imagine, would have been met with quiet confusion.
While players, especially at Arsenal, like to come across as emotionless androids in the media, they do still have opinions in private believe it or not. And considering some of the clangers Dave has dropped in recent years since signing for the Gunners from Nice in 2014, I reckon that some squad members would be questioning the decision to allow him to stay over Woj.
This wouldn’t have been the first time the Arsenal squad questioned what Wenger was doing, not just when it comes to transfers. However, the move happened on 19 July, right on the day the Gunners were facing Bayern Munich in a friendly. Therefore, the speculation surrounding the move, which had been going on all summer, would have hit its peak as the squad flew off to Australia for their pre-season tour.
They had a lot of time to talk.
As fans, we were also confused. Woj had come through the academy, had shown amazing progress at Roma and was obviously ready to spend a season or so competing for the no.1 shirt since he as prepared to sign for Juve behind Gianluigi Buffon. It makes even less sense now that the shot-stopper has revealed that he always wanted to return to Arsenal after his spell in Serie A had come to an end.
He was a fan favourite, just like Jack Wilshere. And having ‘one of our own’ back in north London would have made Gooners feel a little more optimistic going into the new season. In a squad full of players who don’t want to be there, we would have had one that genuinely did.
However, he left. And this meant that both certain squad members (probably) as well as a large section of Arsenal fans were confused and doubting Wenger’s next moves.
Everyone keeps going on about how badly we need a leader at the club and Woj could have been that. A decent goalkeeper, who doesn’t mind shouting and who is a Gooner himself.
As it stands, Woj is at Juve now. There’s no going back and Wenger’s explanation that Arsenal have ‘so many top-class goalkeepers’ already at the club doesn’t wash.
If the boss wants to sell the few players who actually cares about Arsenal, does the team’s start to the 2017/18 season really come as a surprise?