The rumour mill is filled with transfer speculation linking household names and high-profile young talents with big-money moves to some of Europe’s top sides.
With the inflated prices being bandied about, clubs would do well to look past the names and identify potential superstars based on encouraging performances that may have been overlooked.
Promising talents often don’t get the attention they deserve because they’re featuring in lesser clubs away from the limelight of a title challenge or the recognition that comes with topping the charts for goals or assists.
A more extensive search though could unearth some hidden gems scattered across the European circuit and in this series, we put some of those players in the spotlight.
Fiorentina’s goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski makes our latest edition.
STYLE OF PLAY
Exceptionally quick reflexes are a prerequisite for top goalkeepers and Dragowski has them in abundance. The Pole is in his element when the goal is peppered with shots and that’s precisely what put him on the map.
On loan at Empoli last season, he received plenty of plaudits for keeping a clean sheet against Atalanta who attempted a total of 47 shots. Of the 18 efforts that were on target, he saved 17 – setting a new Serie A record for the most saves in a single match.
Dragowski possesses a large frame and looks to attack shots, closing down the striker’s angle quickly before making the save. He also has great reach and is difficult to beat from range.
The 21-year-old is a proactive keeper who commands the penalty area. He’s quick off his line and confident when collecting crosses or emphatically punching them away from danger.
However, while his eagerness to rush out helps in cutting off balls over the top of the defence, he is no sweeper-keeper – not yet anyway. His short passing is fairly average but he’s struggled with his long balls.
At Empoli last season, he ranked fourth for most inaccurate long passes per game among Serie A goalkeepers (11).
While his shot-stopping is his most eye-catching trait, Dragowski needs some fine tuning in that regard as well. He is often guilty of pushing straight back in front of him rather than parrying away to the sides safely or turning shots behind for a corner.
Edwin van der Saar used to excel at holding onto shots or cushioning them with soft hands before collecting on the second attempt. That’s an area in which Dragowski should look to improve.
During his time at Empoli, Dragowski registered 5.1 saves per game which was the highest in Serie A last season among keepers who made more than 10 appearances.
SIMILAR TO – Wojciech Szczesny
After flattering to deceive at Arsenal, Wojciech Szczesny has turned into a solid goalkeeper at Juventus, benefitting no doubt from spending time as Gianluigi Buffon’s understudy before taking over the No1 shirt.
The Pole has always had great ability, excelling with his shot-stopping and reach just like his compatriot Dragowski. Szczesny now also has a much cooler head on his shoulders and that’s something the Fiorentina custodian can already boast. Both keepers are good in the air and in one-on-one scenarios.
Dragowski’s future is up in the air at the moment. He joined Fiorentina in the summer of 2016 and had barely had an opportunity with La Viola before his impressive six-month loan spell with Empoli last season.
Such was his form he’s gone ahead of promising keeper Alban Lafont in the pecking order at Fiorentina, prompting the Frenchman to join Nantes on loan this summer.
However, with two years left on his contract, renewal talks have been slow and tedious. Dragowski’s since had his head turned by interest from the Premier League with reports linking him to Southampton and Bournemouth.
WHERE HE COULD THRIVE
Paris Saint-Germain: With Gianluigi Buffon returning to Juve, Alphonse Areola is the undisputed No1 at PSG. However, while more than competent, the Frenchman isn’t held among the elite or even among those who are expected to eventually be in that category. Dragowski has immense potential and while he’d have to play second fiddle to Areola initially in Paris, there’s every chance of toppling him.
Know more about Sport360 Application