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From Poznań with Love

There is a strong possibility that Charlotte FC soon has a new option on the wing. Terms have purportedly been agreed to for Poland international Kamil Jóźwiak, a winger formerly of Derby County (who currently play in the Championship in England). It should be noted the deal was reported earlier too, but Jóźwiak suffered an ankle injury literally the day after. Before Derby, Jóźwiak played in the Polish first division for Lech Poznań (Robert Lewandowski played there before his move to Borussia Dortmund in 2010). So who is he?


Jóźwiak is young (23, but 24 on April 22), stands 5'9" (176 cm), and is 154lb (70kg). For his career, Jóźwiak has 16 goals and 11 assists. His best season, in terms of goal and assist output, was 2019-20 when he played for Lech. That year he scored 8 and chipped in 4 assists in 35 games. That season got him his move to Derby, where things haven't gone great.


Over two seasons and 58 matches, Jóźwiak has 1 goal and 3 assists. This is certainly not a return that you are hoping from for a winger (and Derby certainly would have liked better). Of course there's also a lot more going on with Derby...


From a Charlotte perspective, the hope has to be that Jóźwiak's poor output is down to two things:

  1. A difficult time acclimatizing to England during a pandemic. Going from one league to another, even in the best of times, isn't an easy transition. To have to do so amid a global pandemic seems rather harsh, especially for a young player (he was 22 at the time of his transfer)

  2. Derby county financial instability and fallout. The club is not in a good place and that has to impact everyone involved, including players.

I do have some worry about the player though. In looking into him, I thought what must Derby supporters think of him? Finding the Derby County Blog, I investigated and found this:


I was alarmed by how indifferent Jozwiak appeared when we played Notts County in pre-season and in his second season, he continues to struggle to make any sort of impact in the Championship. I have a lot of sympathy for the Pole, who had to try to acclimatise in England during the pandemic and clearly hasn’t managed it, but his milky performances this season so far lead me to believe that a transfer away is inevitable now and would be best for all parties.

The mention of Jóźwiak's indifference is not great. If you take into account the date of the article, 11/10/21, and you are being optimistic, you might argue that there were already discussions about him moving on from the club. With that said, I would prefer a player going about their job regardless of status, but I do have sympathy.

 

Here is where we get to the real issue. By all accounts Jóźwiak is talented. Really talent. The question is: will we get the most out of that talent? He played a lot for Poland during Euro 2020 and was impressive. According to UEFA itself he was one of the top 15 players during Euro 2020. Also, look at this eye-opening fact (emphasis added):


Over the course of the two games, Jozwiak has posted seven tackles, 11 recoveries, a 78% pass-accuracy rate, one assist and a top sprint speed of 31.7km/h – faster than Kylian Mbappe.

You can't teach speed like that.


You can teach and help end product, which is an area of weakness. This is not unusual in young players, but at what point do you worry about it? At 22, you believe end product will come. At 22, he showed you that he had it with 8 goals. However, after 2 empty seasons, do you still have faith? At 24, if the end product is still missing, do you believe that it will come back? I would argue that it is still too early to give up on his talent, but this feels like a big year. At 24 (in about 6 weeks), it is time to start making your mark. He needs to start showing the past two years had more to do with Derby and a pandemic than it did with him.


Looking at some of his stats a little more closely (as always stats are from Squawka, WhoScored, FBref, and/or official MLS stats):

  • He is a mid to high 70% passer. During the Euros 2020, he sat at 77.78%. During 2020-21 with Derby, he sat at 74.52%. During 2021-22, he sat at 74.36%.

  • He likes to taker people on and is decent at it (1.9 fouls against/90 in 2020-21 and 0.9 fouls against/90 in 2021-22). Moreover, his take-on success percentage is good (57.43% in 2020-21 and 68% in 2021-22). The end product really isn't there though, as he didn't even average a single shot on goal per 90 in either season.

  • From someone that fast and tricky, I'd like to see him put in a few more crosses (1.9 per 90 in 2020-21 and 0.5 per 90 in 2021-22), especially if he's not getting any shots off. It is definitely not a fair comparison, but Bukayo Saka of Arsenal, one of the best upcoming wingers in the world, has been getting off 3.7 crosses per game this season. Paul Arriola, someone Charlotte was interested in before he re-signed with Dallas, gets off 2.2 crosses per 90 (2021 season). I'm not expecting Jóźwiak to be or become Saka , just that a tricky winger should use that ability to find some teammates, or at least take a chance to do so. Getting back to his 2020-21 levels or even a little higher would be a welcome sight.

At the end of the day, is this transfer worth it? Yes. This squad still lacks depth and it lacks talent. Jóźwiak gives that. While I do have concerns about the profile and his inability so far to consistently produce, he is still only 23.


If we view his previous couple of seasons as heavily impacted by a global pandemic and a disastrously run club--both of which seem likely--then maybe we should view him more as the player coming off of his last season at Lech and Euro 2020. In doing that, it is hard not to be excited.

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