For all those who witnessed it, Fiorentina’s 3-4 defeat to Lazio at the end of the 2017/18 campaign was one of the craziest matches imaginable. The Viola, who had goalkeeper Marco Sportiello sent off after just seven minutes, squandered a 2-0 lead to eventually succumb to defeat, despite a hat-trick from Jordan Veretout.
There was also a truly abysmal performance from substitute stopper Bartlomiej Dragowski (£0.39), the youngster having a nightmare of a match since entering the field as a replacement for the dismissed Sportiello.
— Las Vegas Laziali (@LVLaziali) April 18, 2018
It was no surprise then, that in January 2019, Fiorentina shipped the 21-year-old ‘keeper off on loan to neighbours Empoli, especially as they had extremely promising young French goalkeeper Alban Lafont (£0.39) between the sticks at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Yet far from continuing to flounder, Dragowski found his feet – or rather his gloves – at Empoli, and now reports suggest he is the subject of a summer transfer window bidding war between Southampton and Bournemouth.
How did news of the Polish stopper’s excellent performances travel so far and so quickly?
The truth is that Empoli went from looking certain relegation candidates to almost retaining their Serie A status in sensational style away to Inter on the final day of the campaign, and Dragowski was a hugely important part of their improved form. The Tuscan minnows pulled off an incredible 0-0 draw with high flying Atalanta – more on that later – as well as wins over perennially bigger sides Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Torino in the final weeks of the campaign.
They would concede just two goals in those three victories, but it was the aforementioned draw with Atalanta that really hit the headlines in Italy. During that match, the 6’3” ‘keeper broke a Serie A record with an astonishing 17 saves versus the league’s most potent attacking side.
His achievement was described by Empoli boss Aurelio Andreazzoli as “truly extraordinary,” and it is for this reason that clubs abroad have been alerted to the Poland U21 international’s potential. Such tenacity in turning around those terrible early displays is testament to the player’s character at such an early and crucial point in his career.
“On one hand, Bart didn’t get to play much so far,” his father Dariusz told sportowefakty.wp.pl before his loan move to Empoli. “On the other one, he got to fit into an environment which was brand new for him, and, for starters, he’s already speaking Italian very well. He got to learn how to face competition, and that you can’t get always lined up. He was upset about it first, but now he’s dealing with it much better.”
One caveat that comes with the transfer speculation is that parent club Fiorentina are currently in the midst of a takeover, and any deals will be one hold until the process is complete. However, this young goalkeeper could soon be on his way to the Premier League, and it certainly looks like he is now ready to make the step up.