26 lip 2012

Battle for Dvalishvili shows weaknesses of Polish top clubs

Over the dispute regarding Polonia Warsaw and where and under what name the club will play, the battle for one signature has grown. With Józef Wojciechowski still having rights to several players from his former team, he is looking to get back at least part of the money he invested in the Czarne Koszule over last six years of his unstable and controversial tenure at Konwiktorska stadium. 

One of them is Vladimir Dvalishvili, former striker of Maccabi Haifa and Skonto Riga, currently subject of heated talks between Wojciechowski and two top Polish clubs, Legia Warsaw and Śląsk Wroclaw. The battle lasts for a week now, with both of interested sides failing to meet player's demands over personal contract. With many false rumours doing rounds over last few days, and as it is still unknown in which city Dvalishvili will play, the most interesting thing about possible move is how both, Śląsk and Legia are actually struggling to finish this off.

Legia looks less under the pressure to get him, at least on the paper. Danijel Ljuboja had a good last season, netting eleven goals in the league, but now is expected to feature in a bit deeper role under management of Jan Urban. But comeback of Marek Saganowski was a bit of a surprise, even if new manager wanted more experience and domestic influence on Legia's squad from experienced striker. Yet even with youngsters Kucharczyk and Kosecki in contention for the single place up front, there is a mixed feeling whether Urban and Marek Jóźwiak, club's sport director, did well enough to secure enough quality to raise the level on that position, in order to successfully challenge for the title.

Śląsk, on the other hand, despite scoring the most goals from the whole league last season, is desperately needing a proper striker, the one that would guarantee at least ten goals per season. After all, the trio that is now in the squad of Orest Lenczyk, netted much less than one third of their 47 goals in the championship season. Despite the fact that this position should be Śląsk's top priority in current transfer window, with many losses in the back four and midfield, the focus was taken off from the search of goalscorer, and the likes of Rafał Grodzicki (center-back) and Marcin Kowalczyk (full-back) were signed. 

Now, the low quality on the striker's position is even easier to spot and harder to cover for - especially with team being under reconstruction and starting new season much earlier than majority of the league. But even that should not explain the struggle to sign a striker - Orest Lenczyk could not voice his concerns regarding Cristian Diaz and Johan Voskamp louder, while Łukasz Gikiewicz, despite all of his hard work on the pitch, is nowhere near the quality giving the champions chance in Europe and Ekstraklasa. 

"I don't think they still remember what they are getting paid for" - said Lenczyk recently, talking about Voskamp and Diaz. Both are currently out of favor - the Dutch goalscorer, six to his name last season, criticized the manager in his homeland media, blaming his training methods for recent injury struggles. Diaz was few days late back from holidays and never provided reliable explanation, showing lack of discipline again, something that is crucial in every player's cooperation with Orest Lenczyk. The rather defensive tactics in season's opening games are unlikely to put Śląsk where they ended in May, while manager is forced to play out-of-form players, only not to risk unbalancing team even further than it was seen against Buducnost Podgorica in the Champions League.

Vladimir Dvalishvili can be the answer for both of them. 26-year old Georgian may not have been the best striker in the league since he joined Polonia at the beginning of the year, though in the last three seasons he succeeded in breaking ten-goals barrier and also showing the qualities that are much valued at Legia and Śląsk. He is dynamic, strong on the legs and mobile striker, hard working and pressing high up the pitch - both Lenczyk and Urban are looking for that kind of striker to cooperate with their wingers and playmakers, something that would complete their tactics.

But failure of one or the other club to sign him up to date shows few other things as well. First of all, it proves that top clubs are not willing to spend much despite having obvious problems in their squads - and we are not talking about much money. In fact, Legia and Śląsk are desperate to spend as less as possible on Dvalishvili, agreeing on strange conditions of Józef Wojciechowski, giving away themselves a chance to earn more in the future, when and if the player will be wanted by bigger, foreign clubs.

It is said, that the offer for him from both clubs stands at more than one hundred thousand Euro, while they are ready to give out half of the rights to incomes from future transfers. What is more, both clubs are prepared to agree that Wojciechowski keeps financing some part of Dvalishvili's wages during the length of the contract, only not to break their laboriously constructed budgets. If they cannot finance and meet demands of the player and his card owner, then it only shows how poor resources teams representing Poland on the European stage have.

Arguably, both clubs cannot fail at this transfer and this is the most important reason for which this move is delayed and prepared so cautiously by Śląsk and Legia, as every offer that breaks the other is rather small one, the bids are not of an advantage that would be enough to secure the signature of Dvalishvili. Even if Orest Lenczyk, as he said, is contemplating a deal for "a very good, experienced striker on a free transfer", he knows he must hurry up with decision - as games against Podgorica proved, his team is struggling up front, desperately needing driving force that would make the difference versus Swedish Helsingborg

Legia, though their situation with strikers is less pressing that Śląsk's, may be willing to outbid their title rivals only to prove that they are still the club of a certain reputation in Poland, of the driving force that can take every player they want, attract him not only with finances, but also the stadium, the history, the fans. Being far from stating that one battle lost for Dvalishivili's contract will mean serious change of that trend - a trend set up back in the days of communism, when Legia was an army's club and could have any player they wanted - they need to be wary of more clubs coming in their way, with new stadiums, comparable budgets and as devoted fans. Despite huge investments in the club, this would be seventh season without championship, rather unremarkable failure in an exciting times of new stadium, growing attendances, record budget and, finally, creation of a youth coaching system that is giving its first fruits.

Finally, even though the battle should be up by the end of the week, the most important factor is overlooked. With both clubs struggling at the start of the season in Europe, and clearly having problems with in-form players, especially strikers, the fight, outbidding and continuous negotiations with Józef Wojciechowski show true desperation of both clubs to make themselves at least look successful.

Surely, they are not hoping that once Vladimir Dvalishvili signs for ones or the others, he will jump straight to the starting line-ups - as the player himself pointed out, he is after joke of a preparations at troubled, decimated rest of Polonia's squad that is now shaping the way new owner wants, but without Georgian striker. "It rarely had anything to do with football" - said Dvalishvili. Sadly, the same can be also said about the summer businesses done by Ekstraklasa's leading clubs, Legia Warsaw and Śląsk Wroclaw.

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