When Juventus saw Gigi Buffon decide to go another direction — albeit, for a relatively short period of time — the club wholeheartedly backed Wojciech Szczesny as its now No. 1. At the same time, though, the Juve decision makers also went out and signed one of Serie A’s better young-ish goalkeepers in Mattia Perin, creating a maybe-there’s-a-competition scenario that could have created some drama.
There was no drama — and that’s because of how Szczesny played.
Nearly two years later, we sit here and Szczesny is arguably the best goalkeeper in Serie A these days, creating the kind of career trajectory that many who wear red-and-white and call themselves Gooners in London probably didn’t think was possible. Yet, even with how well Szczesny has played since taking over as the full-time guy in goal for a legend like Buffon, there’s always going to be chatter about just how solid of a long-term solution in goal he could be based simply on Juventus’ lofty ambitions these days.
Like, say, something that was thrown out there just as March was coming to an end:
The essence of the rumor is pretty much right there in the tweet. Juventus, in an attempt to sign Gianluigi Donnarumma from Milan, would sell Szczesny while his stock is possibly at the highest its been in years and he’s only signed a contract extension through 2024 all of two months ago. It’s the classic back end up the buy low/sell high kind of stock market wheeling and dealing you see on Billions. (Which won’t get the U.S. Attorney’s Office involved, unlike what Mr. Axelrod is dealing with on a regular basis.)
I get that such rumor was floated out there nearly two weeks ago, and the only thing we’ve heard since then involving Milan’s young starlet in goal is a Donnarumma-for-Federico Bernardeschi swap deal earlier this week. Just stick with me here.
Now, as long as we’re clear on this, noted Italian transfer reporter Fabrizio Romano stated last week that acquiring Donnarumma “is not a priority for Juve” right now — which is rather refreshing to hear for those of us who have become quite large proponents of Szczesny over the course of the last 2 1⁄2 years or so.
And, honestly, that’s the way it should be.
Is Juventus the kind of club that will always bee looking for an upper hand and improving the squad? Well, sure ... unless you want to squash that notion with how they’ve addressed the quality in the midfield the last couple of summers. You don’t sign one of the best players of all time — no matter how old on the calendar he may be — to just be satisfied with the squad you have and keep it the same as its been the last couple of seasons.
The Donnarumma-to-Juve storyline would be a massive one. The anointed one, who got his start in his teens, comes to the country’s biggest and most-successful club, taking over — albeit, separated for a couple of years — for the greatest goalkeeper to ever play the position. They have the same name. One looked up to the other during his childhood, a time where Donnarumma watched Buffon lift the World Cup trophy in 2006 while San Gigi was at the height of his Superman-like powers.
But, here’s the simple question(s): Is Donnarumma really better than Szczesny? Would paying much more for Donnarumma than Juventus would get for Szczesny actually be worth it?
Question No. 1: I’m not so sure.
Question No. 2: Maybe, but that’s something for down the road.
Three or so years down the road when Szczesny is closing in on his mid-30s, maybe Donnarumma would be the right kind of signing for Juventus. But, the fact is, Juve don’t have a major or pressing need to upgrade the goalkeeper position. The only thing that should warrant Szczesny not being the club’s No. 1 next season is if they get a chance to truly sign one of the top-tier keepers in the world today.
Szczesny might not be in the group, but he’s not too far behind. He’s been one of Juventus’ most consistent performers over the last two years, and that’s even before you consider how high the bar was in terms of who he was replacing in goal.