Krystian Bielik has been sensational last season playing for Charlton and could be the answer to some of Arsenal’s problems. So why is his future in doubt?
If the performances in pre-season were a determinant factor, then the likes of Krystian Bielik, Yaya Sanogo, Chuba Akpom, and many others would have been playing in Arsenal colours today. But Pre-Season is merely a small window to shine, and thus far all those players mentioned above shone when given a chance to do so. While most of those players have left the club since; Bielik still has a chance.
And rightly so, because the Polish player has proven his worth not only in pre-season but with regular football over the years out on loan at various clubs. Arsene Wenger, when he signed the Pole back in 2015, spoke big things about him. Back then, he was merely considered another prospect for the future, and he could have been if given opportunities; but things have changed in the Premier League since.
With all the transfer merry-go-round and the money being splashed on many-a talents, everybody has seemingly ignored Bielik’s transformation. When bought he was considered a future defensive midfielder but has since blossomed into a viable centre-half. His performances with Charlton and the recent Euro u-21 showcased something Arsenal are missing at the moment.
What are Arsenal missing? Defensive solidarity and a solid plan to solve that problem. Of course, there is the transfer market for Arsenal to solve this problem, but with no money to spend, the club have publicly backed the idea of bringing in players from within into the first team fold. Call it blatant hypocrisy, because the club are actively looking at young options in the market when the solution lies within.
Arsenal’s transfer approach
Last summer, with Sven Mislintat by their side, Arsenal had a fantastic transfer window. They signed five first-team players in Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Bernd Leno. Barring Lichtsteiner, all the other four established themselves firmly into Unai Emery’s first team plans, but things have changed since Mislintat left the club in controversial circumstances.
Since the German’s departure, Arsenal’s vision in the market is blurred, and the first signing of Denis Suarez showed that. The club have got rid of the Spaniard since, but are in the market for targets with no clear insight. William Saliba of Saint-Etienne is one player Arsenal have spent massive amounts of time chasing, but without any progress so far. There are other targets, but overall it feels the club have no vision for the future.
The likes of Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham have so far delivered sub-par results when compared to last season’s outlay. In our opinion, if Mislintat was still present, he might have identified Bielik as the proper solution rather than the problem, but Arsenal are going in the opposite direction.
Why is Bielik a problem?
If Bielik’s performances merited a chance at Arsenal in the coming season, then the talk would have been around integrating him into the first team fold. Instead, the conversation is about his departure from the club. Bielik himself has made it clear he does not wish to play for the U-23 side anymore and will move on if he is not offered a first-team role.
With Charlton, he played more than 40 games as their first choice centre-half and massively helped the club to gain promotion. The fact that Charlton, despite his performances, are not trying to sign him shows the player actively seeks the opportunity to play in a top league. Additionally, his Arsenal contract still has two years to run, and his market value, for playing in a lower league remains low.
But Arsenal’s approach to buying young stars, seemingly unproven, makes us want to think Bielik is a problem. He certainly is not considered in the first team fold by Emery, although he should be. Furthermore, if his performances with Charlton cannot be considered, then what about the stuff he did at the Euro u-21 with Poland? Scoring important goals, keeping clean sheets and a memorable performance against Italy should be the benchmark rather than a thing to ignore.
How should Arsenal integrate Bielik?
Much similar to how they did with Rob Holding. In general, Emery could use Bielik as a versatile player who could cover centre-half and defensive midfield position. Take Holding’s case, and the defender took his chances with both hands when offered. Bielik, with his growing reputation, will likely do the same. But for that to happen Arsenal need to give him that chance he so deserves.
Other examples could be Guendouzi, a player unheard of before his transfer to Arsenal and how he became a valuable player throughout the season. In fact, Arsenal should seriously consider the fact that they could face yet another defensive crisis next season like the previous one and players like Bielik could be vital to keeping the balance.
We are not suggesting Arsenal keep Bielik and start him in every game, but why can’t he be an option from the bench? He certainly could be. Arsenal needs to make their stance clear on the player immediately or end up losing him on the cheap to a club who might see is future value.
Arsenal does not have money and should back their talk of integrating players from within their system into the first team fold. The one player who is best suited to do so is Bielik. No other academy or youth star including Joe Willock or Eddie Nketiah deserves this chance that Bielik should have.
Arsenal needs to show their fans and future academy stars that despite being away from the first team of the club for more than four years now, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In Bielik’s case, Arsenal needs to make him as valuable as Holding rather than lose him like Serge Gnabry, who certainly looks like a star the Gunners lost out on.
There is no guarantee Bielik would perform at his very best and help Arsenal in a big way. When the club is ready to take risks on 18-year-olds and unproven stars for the coming season, why not integrate someone who has the experience to thrive at the very top? In all, Bielik should not be considered a problem, but a bright solution to Arsenal for the upcoming season and keep him, albeit for one more season with the first team.