What awaits Rafał Strączek after his transfer to Bordeaux? [ANALIZA]

Rafał Strączek has worked hard for this transfer. A year and a half ago, no one would have bet a penny on him. When he jumped into the gate of Stal Mielec, he was one great experiment, one great unknown. Previously, he only had episodes in the 1st league, and he regularly defended only in the 3rd league, so Ekstraklasa was presented here as a challenge of a considerable caliber. But he didn’t do much of it. Already in the fall of 2020, he was solid, and in 2021 he entered even higher work – first he contributed significantly to the maintenance of his team, and then permanently became a distinguishing goalkeeper on the top league pitches. He will be the footballer of Girondins Bordeaux from summer. In Ligue 1 or in Ligue 2? We will see.

We are not going to pretend that this is some great “from zero to hero” movie genre. This year, Strączek will turn twenty-three, he still has his entire career ahead of him, but the fact is that he himself claims that in his relatively short football adventure there was a moment when I wanted to quit the ball because he was completely mentally broken.

– Nobody wanted to bet on me, nobody trusted me. I hear that I am too young and may not cope. They thought that the youth would miss their matches. It wasn’t easy for me. Because I really looked good, I tried my best, but in a moment someone was cutting my wings. Something like this has made a mark on my psyche – he told us of his time in an extended interview.

The art of waiting

It pays to wait, give yourself a chance. When he entered Ekstraklasa, we felt a bit sorry for him. The effectiveness of the saved shots placed him among the worst goalkeepers in the league. According to EkstraStats, it was 64.5% effective, which means that maybe not a towel yet, but a red light could have come on. Only that, well, it was important to remember that the Pod was not in particularly comfortable working conditions. Steel was losing a lot of goals, and its defenders kicked each other in the foreheads, so we would blame Pod the least in all of this. It was no coincidence that Dariusz Skrzypczak said openly that the experienced Michał Gliwa came only to be the third goalkeeper.

In spring it was completely different. We placed him in the third place of the best youth players in the second round of that Ekstraklasa season. In fact, we classified him higher than, for example, Kacper Kozłowski or Jakub Kamiński. We wrote:

Would Stal have stayed in the league if not for Strączek? Probably not. It was solid already in autumn, and in spring it was even higher. In many matches, he added a lot to the final result, it was a real concert with Pogoń, it was mainly thanks to Strączek that Stal managed to win.

We were a bit surprised when the first decision of Gąsior’s coach was to give up Strączek. An experienced trainer explained this decision with the need of experience, which was to be guaranteed by Michał Gliwa. And what? Gliwa took two plays with Zagłębie, another of the youth players came out pale (Zjawiński), and Strączek returned to the goal. It seems to us that Niemczycki and Dziekoński are more talented. But it’s the Pod that can say about itself: I had the best spring of all of you.

Ranking: the best youth players of the spring round

The pod stands out in the Ekstraklasa

There would be no such maintenance without Rafał Strączek. He’s the type of goalkeeper who puts safe solidity above his super-defense classifications. Sometimes he will make a mistake, get tangled up, get lost, but he will give it back in a robinsonade, which will save the team points. Another thing is that in the summer of last year he was ending his record youth status and … he immediately landed on the bench, though not because he was no longer under the requirement of having a U-21 player in the top eleven, but because he was not going to extend the contract with Stal and the club probed the possibility of realizing its potential.

It is not known whether Rafał Strączek will stay in the team from Mielec, perhaps he will leave our ranks, hence this and no other decision. Michał Gliwa will get another chance, I am not a fan of changing goalkeepers every game. If, after a few queues, this instruction is not the best, I will think about it – said Adam Majewski after the match with Termalica, quoted by the portal hej.mielec.pl.

There was talk of the interest of Raków Częstochowa, but time passed, and the young goalkeeper was still sitting in Mielec, so Majewski quickly changed his mind, returned Strączek to the squad and it paid off for all parties. Stal lost only three matches until the end of the autumn round, and the 22-year-old goalkeeper made it to the top league in his position:

  • 5 clean sheets – 3rd place in the league,
  • 59 shots saved – 4th place in league
  • 75.6% shots saved – 3rd in the league among goalkeepers who have played more than 10 games.

In our notes, Strączek only fell below the starting mark three times, he got fours for matches with Cracovia, Warta and Silesia, but he duly compensated for the top average 5.63 and a ten for the Cossack performance against Bruk-Bet, when he performed absolutely miracles in the goal and pulled out two penalty kicks. In winter, there was interest from Legia, but the entire circle of Rafał Strączek, headed by agent Mariusz Piekarski, made it clear that the goalkeeper wanted to try his hand at a foreign club. It fell on Girondins Bordeaux, with which Strączek signed a contract now, but which – to the delight of Stal Mielec – will be available only in the summer after the contract with the Subcarpathian team expires.

What awaits the Pod in Girondins Bordeaux?

Bordeaux is a six-time champion of France, a club with its magic, a serious brand, but don’t be fooled by this charm. Girondists have not counted in the Ligue 1 stake for several years:

  • 2021/22 (after twenty rounds): 17th place in the league,
  • 2020/21: 12th place in the league,
  • 2019/20: 12th place in the league,
  • 2018/19: 14th place in the league.

The last championship is the 2008–09 season, the last French Cup is the 2012–13 campaign. Well, that’s still an understatement. Bordeaux’s sporting suffering is one thing. They are not the first, they are not the last to lose their own formula for winning. It is quite another matter of the enormous financial crisis that the navy and whites fell into due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Last spring, King Street, an American investment fund, withdrew from investing in the club’s operations. In addition, it happened at a time when Bordeaux was desperately fighting for a relegation and although the pitch managed to maintain the league presence, in the summer the Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion announced that the Girondins had been relegated to Ligue 2.

The Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion ruled that Bordeaux did not meet at least the basic conditions enabling them to join the struggle for the French championship and must quickly find a new owner who would provide them with at least the minimum funds meeting the criteria imposed by the Ligue 1 authorities. controversial businessman Gerard Lopez, who at one time proposed ending the pandemic season of the French league with the help of simulations, and in December 2020 was forced to leave the Lille he was building.

– I’m a francophile. I loved the ’80s Bordeaux. It’s not a takeover, it’s a rescue mission. Red lights are flashing everywhere. We pay a lot of money, we earn little, we suffer huge losses. We will need three to six months to stabilize the situation – he said in an interview with Le Monde.

Lopez hired a new technical director, Admar Lopes, who learned the trade from Luis “Billion euro man” Campos. He also dismissed the current coach, Jean-Louis Gasset, and hired Vladimir Petkovic in his place, who a little earlier brought Switzerland to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals. Bordeaux was to tighten the belt, effectively fight for maintenance and build foundations for the coming years.

Effect? The first twenty-two games of Petkovic’s term of office were: four wins, eight draws and as many as ten defeats. Bordeaux is the last safe one in the field, but only one point clear of the relegation zone. Gerard Lopez calms down. Apparently this is a project for “not for six months”. However, in spring they will face a brutal fight for the league existence. Girondists are very active in the transfer market. They are going to say goodbye to some important players so far, and at the same time bring back some interesting, not necessarily loud, but promising names.

What can Rafał Strączek count on in all this? In the current situation, it is difficult to say, because the club is in the reconstruction phase. The first goalkeeper is the experienced Benoit Costil. The one-time representative of France, however, at the end of June, the contract ends and it is not said that it will be extended, because once, Costil is already in his age, two, that he only defends 61.8% of shots, three that he has released as many as forty-four. goals in twenty games this season.

It is possible that Strączek will compete with Gaetan Poussine for a place in the first team. He is his peer, a multiple youth representative of France, but has no greater experience in senior football – only one game played in Ligue 1 and seven appearances in other competitions so far. Sure, he’s French. Sure, he’s practically a Bordeaux homegrown. Sure, he knows the cloakroom. And sure, these are all serious arguments, but come on: in serious football, skill is the most important thing.

We ourselves are curious what will happen to Rafał Strączek after the transfer to Ligue 1 or Ligue 2. Will – like Radosław Majecki – get stuck on the bench? Hopefully not, because Bordeaux is not Monaco either. At the moment, however, we do not have many arguments not to believe in Strączek. After all, a dozen or so months ago we would not have said that soon we will write about him in the context of transfer to the league from the top five in Europe.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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