Krystian Bielek was signed by Arsenal in 2015 after one year playing at Legia Warsaw where he made 5 league appearances. The deal was undisclosed, but was thought to be around £2.7 million.
Initially, Bielek was signed as a central midfielder, though it now seems the 19 year old is being moulded by the club into a centre back.
After impressing in the youth teams, Bielek has shown what a commanding player he is, with majority of his performances in the centre of defence. Last season he had played more than any other youth player in the under 21, under 19 and under 18 teams, playing in 32 matches overall. He was also captain of the FA youth cup side which reached the semi-final.
With two substitute appearances for the first team, both in the League Cup, Bielek is very much one for the future.
With this in mind, the young Pole has just been sent out on loan to Birmingham City, managed by Gianfranco Zola. Birmingham currently sit mid table in the Championship. He made his league debut recently against Preston and even though Birmingham lost, his display was encouraging. Bielek made more clearances than any other Birmingham defender and had a passing accuracy of 83%.
At 6’2 he certainly has the height for a centre back and is a strong player and good in the air. Having also played as a midfielder in his short career, you can see why he is very composed on the ball when it comes to passing. His midfield play is very good and has good technical ability. He also has a quick turn of pace and seems very comfortable with the ball at his feet. Whether he will continue to play centre back as he gets older or is pushed back to midfield remains to be seen, but you can understand why the club paid £2.7 million for him.
It will be interesting to see how he plays for Birmingham over the next month or so, especially as they are slightly struggling in the League without a win since early December.
I feel next season may be slightly too soon for Bielek to establish himself in the first team, but a full year next season out on loan would give him some invaluable experience. If he continues to improve over the next season or two he could be a major player for Arsenal for years to come.