Arsenal bolsters defense with the addition of Jakub Kiwior

Svar Jain
By Svar Jain
8 Min Read

After Manchester City pulled up back-to-back victories, Mikel Arteta’s team might have easily buckled under the strain, but they didn’t falter when Man United arrived in town. Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Manchester United, which reaffirmed their status as the league’s top team, seemed more important than any previous victory the Gunners had achieved this year.

Arsenal fans had been worried about their team’s depth compared to the defending Premier League winners, but Trossard and Kiwior’s signing has allayed their concerns. The 22-year-old left-footed defender is the perfect match for Arteta since he is a youthful player and will cover for Gabriel Magalhaes when necessary.

Earlier, Chelsea had shown interest in Kiwior, but ultimately decided to go for Benoit Badiashile. As a result, the Gunners were able to reach an agreement for an initial cost of £17.5 million plus an extra £3.5 million in add-ons for the Polish center-back.

The World Cup significantly raised Kiwior’s worth. Arsenal understands that he would have been much more affordable before the competition, but they eventually decided to move for him now before the price rises more. With the purchase of Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna 18 months ago, Arsenal entered the defensive market in Serie A. They weren’t the only ones interested in Kiwior; Italian powerhouses Juventus and AC Milan also gave him serious consideration, but Spezia was always aware that the Premier League was probably going to give them the most money.

What does he mean to the Arsenal squad?

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Arsenal didn’t need to address the position at center-back this offseason, but Kiwior’s addition unquestionably improves the depth chart. Undoubtedly, Gabriel will have priority over the new left-footer, while Rob Holding will cover for William Saliba. Additionally, while Kiwior is predominantly a center-back, he can also play in a holding midfield role, which means that Arsenal has inadvertently given Thomas Partey more significant help. The Gunners want to improve in this position in 2023, although Kiwior may fill in until Declan Rice joins in the summer. As the season progresses, the fixtures are bound to get tensed. FA cup and Europa play-offs are soon going to come into play. Kiwior may replace Gabriel’s playing time in these contests if he settles down fast.

After joining the team, Kiwior stated in his first official interview that he had spoken with former Arsenal defender Krystian Bielik, who joined Arsenal in 2015.

Kiwior explained: “I remember when Wojciech Szczesny and Krystian Bielik played here. I haven’t had a chance to speak to Wojciech yet – we’ll definitely have a chat when we meet up for international duty.

“I got a message from Krystian straight away congratulating me. That was nice, plus he told me to text him if I had any problems or anything like that. I’m really happy to get such a positive reaction right away.”

As Jakub Kiwior sat in the stands on Sunday night, it was quite the start to life at the Emirates. The £21 million transfer of the Polish international to the Gunners will give Mikel Arteta more defensive options as the season’s second half approaches. He has been given the number 15 shirt, which Ray Parlour and Cesc Fabregas’s earlier wore, and he is now ready to participate in training.

How good is he?

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In June 2022, Kiwior earned his senior international debut for Poland. He later started all four of his country’s games at the World Cup in Qatar, where they lost to France in the round of 16. During his time in Italy, Kiwior played left back, midfield, center back, and left center back in a back three, and Arteta undoubtedly noticed this versatility. Kiwior’s numbers don’t shine out compared to his peers due to Spezia’s inclination to cede control and inability to retain possession, but the eye test shows the defender is a decent ball player who won’t have any trouble fitting into Arteta’s control-oriented framework. Kiwior distributes long balls in front of defenses with elegance and enjoys doing so.

“I love passing the ball. I like teams that move the ball and try to create chances that way. So, I’m happy that I’ve come to a team like that” – Kiwior upon signing for Arsenal.

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Kiwior’s potential is evident. Robert Lewandowski in an interview with former Poland team-mates Lukasz Piszczek and Jerzy Dudek said: “The first time I saw him during the warm-up against the Netherlands, I said, ‘What kind of player is this?! In the warm-up, I only saw his development, how he moves, and his footwork, but later, I watched during the match and he was great.

“After the match, I told him: ‘Boy, you didn’t just come to the national squad, you came here to play in the first team’. He has a really great left foot. I don’t want to praise him too much because sometimes the media give my statements too much weight. But he has humility, wants to develop and quickly find answers, and also wants to learn. This is the most important thing.”

On the eve of the January transfer window, Arteta engaged with him directly and outlined a route to the first team. He has been urged to compete for his spot but has not been promised playing time. Arteta expressed his admiration for Kiwior’s long passing and capacity to develop the play on the left side of the field.

When Kiwior steps onto the field for the Gunners, he will be asked to fill Gabriel’s complicated role in Arteta’s system. Fortunately, the 22-year-old is exceptionally strong and at ease taking control from various locations. Although his passing range is an amazing quality, he struggles when playing under pressure. Thus, it could take some time for him to adjust to the Premier League’s quick tempo, but his potential is evident. The 22-year-old appears to be an adequate cover option in Arsenal’s backline for the time being

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