Arsenal fans may choose to reject - or simply ignore - the fact that Wojciech Szczesny is good. Very good in fact.

So good, he's now arguably the most accomplished goalkeeper in Serie A and has made the departure of Gianluigi Buffon seem practically inconsequential. And, given Buffon's legendary status, there are very few goalkeepers in the world who would be capable of doing that.


There was no doubting the fact that replacing Buffon was going to be a herculean task for I Bianconeri. The legendary Italian made over 650 appearances, had won virtually everything there is to win (apart from the illusive Champions League) and was a bonafide club legend in every respect.

Even in his latter years, Buffon was still performing to the very highest standard and, if his contract didn't run out last summer, there is every chance he would still be in the sticks right now. 

However, at 40 years old, the time was probably right for him to move on and it made sense for Juventus to look ahead to a new chapter. 


In stepped Szczesny, a keeper who was phased out at Arsenal and was forced to rebuild his career with a loan move away from the Emirates in 2015 - not the sort of pedigree a club like Juventus would necessarily be looking for.

And it's fair to say that things ended pretty disastrously at Arsenal for Szczesny. After a promising few seasons in north London, his form took a downward spiral and, when he was fined £20,000 for smoking in the showers following a 2-0 defeat to Southampton, the final nail was driven into the proverbial coffin.


"I used to smoke. I can't do too much about it. I got fined by Arsene," Szczesny said of the incident, as per BBC Sport. "I have massive respect for him but because it happened at the same time as I lost my spot in the starting line-up, it got massively overblown.

"I was 20 years old when I started playing in the Premier League. Maybe mentally I wasn't quite prepared for it and that has earned me a reputation."

Once Arsenal brought in Petr Cech later that year, Szczesny was forced to search for regular first team football elsewhere, opting to make the switch over to Serie A with Roma - a decision that practically salvaged his career.


His game immediately improved and confidence was clearly running through his veins once again, just as it had during his early years with the Gunners. His often erratic decision-making became sharper, his footwork was refined and his already impressive shot-stopping skills developed even further. In short, the loan move couldn't have come at a better time.

Fast forward two years and Szczesny made the permanent switch to Juventus to act as the deputy and eventual replacement to the great Buffon - for the measly sum of £10m.

What has been strikingly obvious is just how much Buffon has impacted on Szczesny's development. No longer is he just a fantastic shot-stopper, but he's a fundamental cog in the well-oiled machine that is Juventus' defence.


The relationship Buffon was able to form with the defenders around him was virtually unparalleled right across Europe. He'd fire them up with passionate tirades, celebrate every save and every block as if he'd scored a goal and act as a calming influence when everyone else was losing their heads. 

That's what made him so special. He knew what was required at any given moment.


Szczesny has a way to go before he can project that kind of stature, but he is already well on his way to filling Buffon's gloves. It's evident that he's already formed a bond with the defenders in front of him and it's fair to suggest that Juventus wouldn't still be unbeaten in Serie A this season if it weren't for some of his comprehensive displays.

His most recent appearance, a confident performance against Napoli in a crucial match at the top of Serie A, proved just how much he has matured. He caught virtually every shot that came his way and, although Napoli mounted an unrelenting assault on his goal, there was a sense that I Partenopei were never going to be able to salvage a point with the Pole in their way.

Szczesny is well aware that replacing Buffon was never likely to be easy, but he is simply focused on being the best number one that Juventus could ask for. In his own words: "It is easier because I am not Italian. It means I will never be the next Buffon. I will be the new number one goalkeeper of Juventus and that is it. 

"My only thought process is stopping balls flying into the net. I don't go into games thinking I can't make a mistake because everyone is going to miss Buffon."