30 sty 2012

Different fates of two Polish Euro hopes

Few last days of January are as busy as ever in football across the Europe and once again Polish players were subject of several interesting rumours and deals. Jarosław Fojut surprisingly signed pre-contract with Celtic and may still be on his way to Glasgow if Scots decide they need him now. Meanwhile in Germany, Kaiserslautern bought young sensation from Polish 1. Liga, Jakub Świerczok for only 400,000 Euro and installed him into first squad immediately. But it seems that the best ones, the most interesting deals were saved for last hours of the winter transfer window.

With less than six months remaining before it all kicks off in Poland and Ukraine, players are getting desperate to get one of twenty-three places in the squads of the hosting nations. Franciszek Smuda recently narrowed his selection and his rather unimpressive approach towards Poles playing abroad may mean that only something special and regular place in the team may be something noticeable, worthwhile for him. Ludovic Obraniak moved to Bordeaux this month mainly to get more playing time but he pressed for the deal to be done rather sooner than later because of the threat that he may lose his place in the starting eleven in the Polish national team.

That is also what might have decided on Paweł Brożek’s move to Scotland, where he was looking for a half-year long loan deal in two Glasgow clubs. Neil Lennon, the manager of Celtic, confirmed this saying: “Brożek’s got the European Championships in front of him and he needs to play to stake a claim. It’s in his home country so he will come here very motivated to play and to be successful.” While this may be a surprise move after just a year at Turkish Trabzonspor – which was highly uninspiring twelve months for Polish striker – Brożek’s decision to move is very risky one as well. If he failed there and for long has not been in fine goal scoring form, then doubtfully he fill find it during  intense and physical rest of the season in Scotland.

He is not used to the style of the Scottish Premier League and although a strong person himself, he may be easily bullied out of any hope of making an instant impact at Celtic. Of course, his new club is top of the league and head and shoulders above rest of the stake bar Rangers, who also made him their target but just were not quick or sure enough in their dealings with Trabzonspor. The memories of Maciej Żurawski are still alive but they are quite different players and, what is even more important, they moved to Scotland in rather two different moments of their careers.

First of all, Paweł Brożek is rather a confidence type of striker, needing the time on the pitch and passes, chances, while Maciej Żurawski was more a complete striker, even if his time at Celtic Park was successful only for several months. He moved there from Wisła after scoring 24 in 25 games in Ekstraklasa, while Brożek netted more in the Polish national team over last year than he did for his club, which is three and two goals respectively. Paweł Brożek looks for a fresh start but he comes in only as a back up and will need some time to adapt. His undoubted, but for some time hidden qualities can only help in his very risky move – the one that shows how high Brożek’s ambitions reach. He was snubbed by Wisła Krakow earlier this winter when possibility of his comeback has came up in Poland, only to move few levels up and try his chances at Celtic Park. He cannot be blamed for taking this challenge.

The risk taken by Ariel Borysiuk is quite different. Despite him being rated very highly by experts, as was shown in PFS2011 Ranking, he somehow is omitted by Smuda in selection for Euro 2012. With only few as good passers and tacklers among Polish midfielders as Borysiuk is, that remains strange decision but Legia’s talent should look only at himself. Having played over 100 games at the age of 20 in Polish Ekstraklasa, he’s been on the radar of bigger clubs in previous years and in more scouts’ notebooks than he probably thinks. Decision to move this winter was probably made due to Borysiuk acknowledging there is no one better at Legia to learn from anymore, and club was looking for funds as well so Legia gave his agent permission to look for new place to develop. He found two of them.

Kaiserslautern and Club Brugge are hardly the ones that will ever be regarded as teams of higher potential and status than Legia have in Poland, but are in better company in Bundesliga and Jupiter Pro League respectively. Belgium and Germany are and will be for years countries regarded as talents’ producers and attracting bigger interest from better clubs and their scouts than the ones negotiating with Legia about Borysiuk.

This Saturday it was thought that the deal will be done with Kaiserslautern and Borysiuk was expected to come for medical on Monday – what happened that he changed his mind and went to Brugge instead then? First of all, it was all about position of FCK in the Bundesliga – with relegation a real threat in such competitive league, he wasn’t one hundred per cent sure about this move, despite money and club’s offer matching his needs. He said that he believed in his chances but wasn’t so sure about those of Kaiserslautern and to be relegated just six-months into his long term deal would be a step back – the one that he wouldn’t like to take or even risk.

That is why Club Brugge is safer option but even comparing him to Brożek’s situation, it cannot be said that that he lacks ambition at such early age. It is more a show of his common sense thinking, proper career planning and with Belgium club still one of the top in own league, he hopes of the same impact he would make at relegation candidates in the Bundesliga, only with European Cups prospects. Talent and qualities are there, and even though it may not necessarily be about his chances of making it to the Euro 2012, he can hope that bigger prospects awaits in Belgium than Poland, which is another reason of why he pushed for a move rather than new contract in Warsaw.

Two of the deals that are only subject to players’ signatures in the dying hours of still open transfer window, while it must be noticed that finally Polish footballers are making the decisions under the pressure of own ambitions or they are carefully planned. So many times these kind of transfers were taken too quickly or the risk involved was not taken into consideration, but Ariel Borysiuk and Paweł Brożek, despite being at different moments of their careers, are now facing future defining chances in Brugge and Glasgow. It is up to them now whether they will take them.

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