Josh Sippie breaks down Fiorentina’s talented Pole, Bartlomiej Dragowski.
It’s funny how different nations are renowned for their ability to pump out certain types of players. Germany are known for their hulking defenders. Spain are known for their creative midfielders and Poland are known for their keepers. Like an assembly line, they has been able to churn out quality keeper after quality keeper.
Therefore, when another one comes out and really captures attention, it may not be so noticeable, as they do this all the time, but the hype around Bartlomiej Dragowski looks to be well placed and not just another name thrown into the bunch.
Who is Bartlomiej Dragowski?
Bartlomiej Dragowski was born in Bialystok, Poland, the son of former Jagiellonia Białystok midfielder Dariusz Dragowski. It is with this hometown club of Jagiellonia Białystok that Bartlomiej received his education in, as he started in their youth academy in 2010 and was promoted to the first team in 2014. He made his first-team debut with the Ekstraklasa side at the ripe young age of 16 and while the 4-4 draw was hardly anything to write home about, the brilliance of Dragowski was not far from being unleashed on the world.
Just after the start of the following season, Dragowski replaced starting keeper Jakub Słowik, after he was sent off. The teenager made a series of simply breathtaking saves and put in such a convincing performance that he kept the No. 1 shirt and retained the position for the rest of the season. At the end of this breakthrough 2014-15 season, Dragowski was named the best keeper of the season, the top discovery of the season and the third best player overall. He followed that campaign up with yet another strong year with the Polish side and began to set his name apart as one of the top keepers to keep an eye on, and not just in Poland.
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The following year he was sold to Serie A side Fiorentina and since that point, his name has dropped off a bit, as the young Pole has been buried under the depth chart, but at just 20 years old, he has had some of the top European sides sounding out his future, ready to give him his chance at a breakthrough.
Following up numerous superb Polish goalkeepers comes with a lot of pressure, but former Poland keeper Jan Tomaszewski has stated with all confidence that young Dragowski is capable of being the next him:
“Can Drągowski be the second [Jan] Tomaszewski? Of course he can! He has great potential and I hope he will be a great goalkeeper. In some regards he is better than me at his age.”
Internationally, Dragowski has represented Poland at every youth level and looks ticketed for the senior side role just as soon as the trio of Lukasz Fabianksi, Artur Boruc and Wojciech Szczesny make way. Dragowski is seven years younger than Szczesny, the youngest of the three, so it is really only a matter of time.
What is his Style of Play?
The future of Poland between the sticks rests confidently in the hands of Dragowski because his style of play shows maturity well beyond his years. He is calm under any form of pressure and when tasked into any objective, he goes about his work with confidence and composure.
Dragowski knows where to be and he knows how to handle himself when he is there. It is always remarkable to see a young keeper so astute in what his duties are and so calm in carrying out his duties, but you will see all of these things when he is between the sticks.
Dragowski has been compared to fellow Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny, and for good reason. Both have tremendous reach, which can lead to some simply spectacular saves. Szczesny will always be known for his ability to seemingly defy human limits to reach save after save, particularly on free kicks and penalties, and Dragowski is already showing similar capabilities.
What are his Strengths?
Dragowski’s primary strength is his calmness. It has to be one of the hardest things to teach a keeper because it is all about mentality. And it’s not just a matter of being calm, but also being decisive, which is just another thing that you don’t always see in keepers. Hesitation is the enemy when you’re the last line of defense between your club surrendering a goal, yet this pressure never gets to Dragowski, nor does he show indecisiveness in any situation.
Reflexes are also a fantastic strength of this young man, which, coupled with his tremendous reach, is what allows him to make so many stellar saves, not to mention his tremendous finger and wrist strength. To be able to reach a blistering ball with just the tip of his fingers and still safely turn it around the outside of the post is simply remarkable to watch.
Dragowski also has excellent situational awareness. He is always astute with his positioning and is almost impeccable at being in the right place to give himself the best chance at making any given save, no matter the distance or power.
What are his Weaknesses?
For a keeper, weaknesses are usually easy to spot. If someone isn’t decisive in the air, it shows. If someone has shaky hands, it shows. And don’t even think about it if they have poor reflexes. But Dragowski has all of the key traits that you would check off when searching for the ideal keeper. He has the reach, the reflexes, the strength and the composure. Since he really doesn’t have many weaknesses, the only thing he really lacks is first-team opportunities.
Since signing with Fiorentina, he has made just one appearance, and it wasn’t a very good one. That was all for a full year of being at the club. Going into his second year at the Italian outfit as the No.2 for Marco Sportiello (with Ciprian Tatarusanu leaving), he really needs to be given a chance to perform so that he can get his chance in the Poland senior side. That is where he belongs with the tremendous skill set that he has.
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