Arkadiusz Milik has gone, Prejuce Nakoulma looks to be next. If reports are to be believed, Konrad Nowak, Aleksander Kwiek and Łukasz Skorupski are attracting interest away from Upper Silesia soon. It isn’t the first time that Górnik Zabrze have ripped apart their squad during a transfer window; but having reached a position where a place in Europe could be at stake, another exodis from Zabrze could be very costly for the club – in more ways than one.
Some movement from the Ernesta Pohla was inevitable. With Nakoulma practically saying his goodbyes to the Trójkolorowi faithful after the final game of the Autumn Round, it was just a waiting game to see who would be joining him in exiting. Whilst many in Zabrze will be disappointed with the loss of Milik, it will not have been a surprise that one of Poland’s top talents chose more money and a stronger league to prove his talents.
If Nakoulma does leave as expected, the club’s two most valuable assets will be gone, making it difficult for Górnik to maintain their position towards the top of the Ekstraklasa. If Kwiek – the underrated star of Gornik’s Autumn – also heads away from Silesia, many will expect Górnik’s European challenge to fade quickly.
But that shouldn’t necessarily be the case. With both Milik and Kwiek suspended for the Autumn’s final game, the incoming Wojciech Łuczak and Mateusz Zachara – both scoring goals in the 2-0 victory over Lechia Gdańsk – showed that Górnik could be stronger in depth than many originally thought. Also, with players such as Konrad Nowak making steps into the first team, and Mariusz Magiera starting to make an impact after missing the first part of the season through injury, Górnik supporters have slightly more reason to be optimistic about Spring than many think.
However, with the transfer window likely to take its toll on the Trójkolorowi, there is one man who Górnik simply cannot afford to lose; the man who has masterminded their performances for the last three years – Adam Nawałka.
With young talent Milik already leaving the club against the manager’s wishes, any additional transfer activity is sure to frustrate the 55 year-old coach even further. Whilst Nakoulma’s transfer may be expected, it would be the failure to secure a contract extension for Kwiek, or the letting go of some of Górnik’s younger prospects which could turn out to be disastrous for the club.
Whilst Nawałka has repeatedly shown his ability to regenerate the Górnik team after seeing it decimated in order to pay off debts; you have to wonder how many more times he will stand for it before packing his bags and leaving.
Whilst he may have lost Michał Pazdan and Adam Marciniak from his squad in the summer, Nawałka was spared a mass exodus from the Stadion Ernesta Pohla; and the club clearly reaped the benefits in the autumn round, finishing in fourth place with the strongest defence in the league, and having only lost one solitary game. If the coach was to once more see his squad torn apart – this time whilst having a real chance of a European challenge – you could understand his annoyance.
If there is to be any relative successes in Zabrze over the coming years, Nawałka is likely to be central to it. Whilst Górnik are in significant financial bother, they should do all they can to keep hold of the former Wisła Kraków and GKS Katowice boss – arguably the best coach currently operating in the Ekstraklasa. If that should mean turning down a quick buck in favour of making a concerted push to reach the top three, or giving slightly more money (within reason) to players such as Kwiek whom Nawałka deems as important, then the Górnik board should try their hardest to find room in the budget. If the club allows Nawałka to keep his squad as in-tact as possible, then the potential money from a European place could far outweigh that of a quick sale or small contract increase.
Whilst Nakoulma, Milik and Kwiek have undoubtedly been the club’s stars this season, Górnik Zabrze needs Adam Nawałka more than anyone else. If they are able to keep him happy, it could be that final ingredient needed to help the club return to the big time.