GDANSK, Poland. February 19 (PSN) – In the blink of an eye, Rafal Wolski’s dreams of playing for Poland in this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup are effectively over.
On Sunday, the 25-year-old suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Lechia Gdank’s 2:0 loss to Piast Gliwice. Much like most torn ACL injuries, Wolski’s injury was not as a result of any direct contact or physical play. Rather, he simply stopped in his tracks while sharply pivoting past a Gdansk opponent.
On Wednesday, Wolski will have surgery on his knee performed by Pier Paolo Mariani, who recently operated on fellow national team members, Arkadiusz Milik and Maciej Makuszewski. Recovery time for such an injury of this kind typically amounts to six-to-nine months in total. Wolski shared the following update with his Twitter followers on Monday.
Jestem już po badaniach i konsultacji z doktorem. Diagnoza – zerwane więzadło krzyżowe przednie. Operacja w środę. Później rehabilitacja i powrót na boisko. pic.twitter.com/flwhK1TQ79— Wolak27 (@RafalWolski92) February 19, 2018
What Could Have Been
It is undeniable that Wolski has been one of Poland’s most technically gifted players in recent memory. He burst onto the scene with Legia Warsaw at the tender age of 18 and quickly became a fan favorite with his tantalizing displays of skill. The youngster from Kozienice routinely left defenders in disbelief and shame with his signature move – the pirouette. It all culminated in his most dazzling display of wizardry yet in a 2011 match versus his current squad, Lechia Gdansk.
Such displays of world-class skill prompted European giant, Borussia Dortmund, to nearly sign the attacking midfielder to a long-term contract in the summer of 2012. Instead, the Polish “wunderkid” opted to hone his craft in the Serie A with storied club, Fiorentina. Unfortunately for Wolski, his time in Italy was mired in inconsistently, which yielded a meager one goal in 15 appearances for the Florence side. This was followed up by brief, equally futile loan spells with Bari (Italy), FV Mechelen (Belgium) and Wisla Krakow (Poland). Ultimately, Wolski decided to sign a three-year contract with his current club, Lechia Gdansk.
During this 2017-18 season, Wolski has managed to tally one goal and two assists in 11 club appearances. Internationally, he has appeared seven times, notching a single goal in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying game against Armenia. It will interesting to see if he can bounce back from this injury to a salvage a promising career or if he will continue to fully spiral off the radar of the Polish national team.
Possible NT Replacements
Where does this leave Adam Nawalka in terms of midfield options? Pretty thin. Other than starters Piotr Zielinski and Karol Linetty, the kadra is severely lacking in the talented, offensive-minded, central midfielder department. Domestically, the likes of Przemyslaw Frankowski, Jacek Goralski, and Damian Kadzior would be the best of a rather weak bunch to fill Wolski’s vacant spot.
In terms of Poles playing abroad, former NT regulars, Mateusz Klich and Adrian Mierzejewski might be able to finagle their way on to Nawalka’s side this summer with recent impressive performances for their respective club teams. The injury to Wolski could also induce current head of the Polish Football Association (PZPN), Zbigniew Boniek, to further delve into the option of expediting Sonny Kittel’s Polish citizenship.
Suffice it to say, the next few months will be very interesting for Nawalka et al. It all starts with upcoming friendlies against Nigeria and South Korea a little over a month away.
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