Here’s a new post about a crazy summer for Polish players from regular contributor to the blog Maciej Słomiński
There was almost complete silence in the corridors of the Stade Vélodrome after Poland lost their Euro 2016 quarter-final against Portugal on penalties. Keeper Łukasz Fabiański was in tears, there was pain and regret, players felt they could have done more, maybe even reach the final and make history – something the brilliant teams of the 1970s and 80s with Deyna, Lato, Boniek and Smolarek didn’t manage.
Just a month on from that evening in Marseille it can already be said that the football world assessed Polish footballers somewhat differently than they assessed themselves.
First defensive players were given the credit they deserved as the back line was the key to Polish success in the tournament as I stated correctly just before the knock-out stage.
Straight after the Euro exit defensive midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak joined his beloved manager Unai Emery in his equally beloved Paris for €30 million. In so doing ‘Krycha’ smashed the 15 year old transfer record for a Polish player (Jerzy Dudek from Feyenoord to Liverpool). Next Torino parted ways with their captain and central defender Kamil Glik who left for Monaco for €11 million.
It got to the point that long-time former national team captain Kuba Błaszczykowski’s transfer from Dortmund to Wolfsburg went almost unnoticed.
The last time Eastern European nationals moved en-mass to quality sides was probably in 1996 when Czech players earned transfers after reaching the European Championship final (Nedvěd to Lazio, Poborský to Man United, Bejbl to Atletico Madrid, Berger to Liverpool and Smicer to Lens). All of them apart from Berger (who already was at Borussia Dortmund) moved West from their domestic league.
But easy we got that too. Midfielder Karol Linetty, who was in the squad but didn’t play a single minute in the finals, moved from Lech Poznań to Sampdoria (€3 million), while players who weren’t even on the reserves list like attacking midfielder Ariel Borysiuk (Legia Warsaw) and keeper Bartłomiej Drągowski (Jagiellonia Białystok) went to QPR and Fiorentina respectively.
The latter is still a teenager as is Bartosz Kapustka who recently made his debut for Leicester in a friendly against Barcelona after completing an approximately €7 million move from Cracovia – a record fee for a Polish league player.
Kapustka (which translates as ‘little cabbage’) impressed in the Euro 2016 opener against Northern Ireland and got praise from Gary Lineker, which given his Leicester past made Claudio Ranieri’s side the obvious destination.
The Italian manager is also mates with Zbigniew Boniek, head of the Polish FA and resident of Rome, which takes us smoothly to the city of Naples. Local side Napoli after receiving over €90 million from Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus decided Arkadiusz Milik would be the perfect replacement. Milik who is just 22 cost €31 million which is more than Ajax received for Suarez, Sneijder, Huntelaar and Chivu.
Kapustka will have Marcin Wasilewski to talk to at Leicester, while Milik’s companion in Napoli will be Polish attacking midfielder Piotr Zieliński who also recently made the move to the club from Southern Italy. Napoli paid Udinese approximately €19 million for Zieliński’s services after the creative player’s impressive loan spell at Empoli.
All in all the total transfer fees for Polish players this summer will top the magical total of €100 million. And that’s even with the team’s biggest star Robert Lewandowski staying put at Bayern.
The future now looks bright for Adam Nawałka’s national team which lines up at the following clubs:
Swansea City (Roma) – Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Lyon – Wolfsburg, PSG, Leicester City (Napoli), Rennes – Napoli, Bayern Munich