Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has admitted that leaving the club was ‘the best thing that could have happened’ to him.
The 27-year-old Poland international has been out on-loan at Serie A side AS Roma since the summer of 2015, when he opted for a move in order to rebuild his confidence and continue playing at a high level having fallen behind Petr Čech in the pecking order at Arsenal.
Since then though, he has made the starting berth his own in Rome. He’s made 79 club appearances across all competitions during the two years. He has established himself as one of the league’s best goalkeepers, having kept 14 clean sheets this season, the highest tally to date across Italy’s top division.
However, none of this would have happened if he hadn’t made a decision to leave the Gunners on loan after the arrival of Čech for £10m from London rivals Chelsea.
After a poor run of form, his situation at the time wasn’t looking great and, understandably, he would have probably been seen as second-choice to the experienced stopper had he remained in the comforts of north London.
As quoted by an article in the Guardian he said, “I could have stayed in an environment that was going negatively for me. Instead the opportunity that came gave me a fresh start. You get a new perspective, coaches and influences.
“You learn new drills. You do new things. Now I am very happy that it happened, even if the first impression was that I might be out of Arsenal, which was very painful. Now I think it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me,” he continued.
Szczesny revealed that he was aware that his career was constantly teetering back and forth at Arsenal and inconsistent performances meant he had to make a change.
“The one thing I want to do is make sure I don’t stay still… I was quite still for five years – sometimes I played better, sometimes worse, sometimes phenomenal, sometimes rubbish.
“You take steps forwards and backwards. It is not very good for your head if you go up and down and up and down. I want to try to keep going up, with my quality and with my decisions that I make.”
With age and more experience under his belt, it’s clear that Wojciech has improved without tireless glare of the UK media.
“I am 27, the best I have ever been, I still have room to improve and I want to make sure that room doesn’t stay empty. I want to go into that room. It feels like a big moment,” he continued.
He clearly appreciates Roma for giving him an extended opportunity to prove his ability, whilst progressing as a goalkeeper with regular minutes under his belt.
“The biggest thing I have taken away from these two years at Roma is the fact I grew as a goalkeeper.
“It’s just raising your levels, your standards.
“I absorbed a bigger knowledge of football, the tactical side of the game.
“You don’t see me with that rush of blood that I used to have as a younger keeper. It’s not that I don’t feel that rush of blood but tactically you are more aware of when to be involved, when to let the defenders recover.”
Szczesny will return to Arsenal this summer and has certainly done enough to convince most that he has what it takes to be Arsenal’s number one.
Whether or not he’s convinced Arsene Wenger, however, remains to be seen.