Adam Nawalka, the Gornik Zabrze coach, believes Arkadiusz Milik’s transfer to one of the Bundesliga’s big clubs, in the shape of Bayer Leverkusen, may have come too soon for his own good. Having played a major part in the 18-year-old’s rapid rise through the Polish football ranks, Nawalka now fears that things may have gone a bit too far too fast for the striking starlet. After all, Milik only made his Ekstraklasa debut last July and has spent just half a season at Gornik Zabrze. Within three months of that league introduction he made his first international appearance for Poland against South Africa as a substitute. Then after further brief run-outs against England and Uruguay, Milik featured in the starting line-up for the first time, against Macedonia where he bagged his first goal in a 4-1 win.
In a thinly-disguised dig at his own club’s impetuousness to make some badly-needed cash out of the youngster’s talent, the Gornik Zabrze coach said: "Patching up the club’s budget by selling the 18-year-old could turn out to be damaging for his future development."
The former Wisla Krakow midfielder further hinted that Milik’s decision may not have been entirely of his own making. "Three months ago Arek didn’t consider he was ready to leave. He told me he wanted to become the Ekstraklasa’s leading scorer and fight for a regular place in the Polish national team. Then three weeks ago he suddenly changed his mind and decided he was now ready for a transfer abroad, that he wanted to test his skills in a stronger league."
Like most Polish football clubs, Gornik Zabrze are struggling financially and in their case the problem is exacerbated by the long overdue rebuilding of their stadium. This means that for over a year now crowds have had to be limited to just 3,000.
Nawalka knows that a move to Germany is frought with danger for an ambitious young player. Not all Polish strikers have enjoyed the same success as Robert Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund or Jan Furtok before him at Hamburg. For many it has turned out to be a career graveyard as they end up spending more time on the substitutes’ bench than playing.
Arkadiusz Milik has joined Bayer Leverkusen on a five-year contract designed to keep him at the Bayer chemical giant-owned club until the summer of 2018. Fortunately his arrival at the BayArena will not be met by a sea of totally unfamiliar faces, as Poland international Sebastian Boenisch is already based there.
It has been only just over two years since Milik burst onto the Polish football scene, making his debut as a 16-year-old with a brace of goals in a Division 3 match for Rozwoj Katowice. The local Silesian-born-and-bred youngster did not have to travel very far for his first and only other career move when he signed for neighbours Gornik Zabrze just a year and a half later, last July.
Both Gornik and Bayer Leverkusen have agreed not to reveal the transfer fee, but if past experience is anything to go by, then should Milik’s Bundesliga career take off it is the Germans who will do better out of the deal. And Gornik Zabrze will not be the only club who may regret letting the youngster go so quickly. English Premier League pair Reading and Tottenham Hotspur will also be counting their losses, as not long after making his Polish Division 3 debut, the striker had unsuccessful trials with both clubs. Should Milik establish himself in the Bundesliga, they may well rue letting a gem slip through their fingers.
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