Wojciech Szczęsny has been a rumored Napoli target for the goalkeeper position for months now, but for the past week or so, most media outlets have been saying that a move to Juventus is a done deal. However, according in Radio CRC, his agent has told them that nothing has been decided yet and that Napoli is a still a possibility.
Juventus are believed not to have satisfied Arsenal’s 16 million euro asking fee but to have come terms already with the player with regard to a contract. Juventus’ contract offer has probably made negotiations with the Polish international more difficult for Napoli as the team from Turin has likely offered him more money than Napoli can match. Remember, in terms of structural revenue, Juventus more than double what Napoli bring in and the Azzurri are still behind the likes of Roma, Milan and Inter as well. We’ve been able to outperform these sides largely because we do not get into bidding wars for specific players. Instead, we look to look to find players of value, both in terms of their transfer fee and what they can contribute on the field in relation to their contract requirements. It has been a successful strategy, and one that has seen us climb to the upper tier of European football with significantly less money to work with than other teams in that category. I think a player’s wage demands is a part of the transfer market discussion that often gets overlooked by fans but is really one of the critical factors in the club’s decision making process. Apart from the financial impact of bringing in players on big contracts, we also have to consider the impact it has on the rest of the locker room where nobody currently earns more than 5 million euros a year. Unless it is an absolute world-class player, is it worth risking the locker room balance by bringing in a new player who will instantly make more than the players who have been sweating their Napoli shirts for years?
Even if we cannot match the contract offer for Szczęsny, we may still be in the running. What also has to be in the back of Szczęsny’s mind as he makes a decision about his future is that the World Cup is next year. Does he really want to sit behind Buffon for a year and jeopardize a call up by the Polish national team for the biggest sporting tournament in the world? Especially considering that another talented Polish keeper, Lukasz Skorupsk, will likely be playing a central role with Roma in the coming season. Szczęsny may be willing to take less money if he feels that a move to Napoli will help ensure his role with Poland in next summer’s tournament in Russia.
Another likely factor in all of this is current Napoli keeper Pepe Reina. Will the club look to sell the Spaniard when he’s clearly one of the most central figures in the locker room? Would they be willing to keep him in a backup role, and if so, would they be able to convince Pepe to stay on and take a backseat to another keeper, perhaps guaranteeing him some playing time in the Coppa Italia? It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.