By James McManus
Everton legend Neville Southall believes Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny should be a much more accomplished player than he currently is, citing a lack of ambition and drive as factors for his stalled development.
Arsene Wenger’s side have kept five clean sheets in their opening 13 league games so far this season, with the Poland international featuring just four times after being restricted by injury, but Southall remains unconvinced that the 22-year-old is making the most of his potential.
“I don’t think he’s over-confident. I think he could work harder and I don’t think he makes a lot of the right decisions sometimes,” Southall exclusively told Goal.com.
“As a goalkeeper, you look at that and think ‘I’m concentrating and how best to do my job’. Whether that means trying to put your feet in line, to come for a ball, and this can sometimes effect him.
“I do look at him and think he could be probably 35% better off than what he is.
“Again, is that his desire to learn or is it that he’s just quite happy where he is? When goalkeepers first appear, they’re not on good money and then all of a sudden you get offered a lot of money and it takes some people years to get over that and sometimes they don’t, they just go on with their game.
“You look at him and he’s got an improved contract, but does he want to stick at Arsenal all his life or does he want to go and play for a bigger club? I know Arsenal is a big club, but does he want to go an play for a Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United or City?
“If he doesn’t want to try and get there and is quite happy where he is, I wouldn’t be too pleased, because I want him to be ambitious and acquit himself.
“Maybe he’s not being pushed enough and you look at all the Arsenal goalkeepers and I don’t think they’re pushed hard enough and they don’t try hard enough.
“I don’t see a massive improvement in anyone there and you look at it and think ‘you need to work harder at your craft’.
“He’s got the ability to be a really great goalie, but he’s got to be pushed for that. Nobody is going to say ‘well you’re a good goalie, here’s the rest to make you a better one’, you’ve got to push on yourself and try and improve every single day on the training ground.”
On the subject of goalkeepers, Southall reserved special praise for Liverpool shot-stopper Pepe Reina, citing that he is the best that the club have had for a number of years after the Merseyside outfit were recently linked with a move for Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi.
He added: “He’s the best goalkeeper that they’ve had since Bruce Grobelaar by a mile and he’s good to watch.
“I think distribution wise he’s miles better than Al-Habsi, they’ve both got their merits but overall I’d have Pepe Reina.
“As I say, he’s a massive goalkeeper, he makes more goals and starts more attacks than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League.”
Signed copies of Neville Southall’s autobiography, The Binman Chronicles, are available exclusively from decoubertin.co.uk
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