- Arsenal is on the verge of completing their second winter transfer window signing
- Spezia centre-back Jakub Kiwior is set to complete his move to North London
- SportsLeo takes a look at who Jakub Kiwior is
Arsenal is on the verge of completing their second winter transfer window signing, with Spezia centre-back Jakub Kiwior set to complete his move to the league leaders.
The 22-year-old watched Mikel Arteta’s side beat Manchester United 3-2 on Sunday from the Emirates stands, having already completed his medical and agreed terms on a four-and-a-half-year contract.
An official of Kiwior’s transfer – which will cost the Gunners £17.5 million plus £3.5 million in add-ons – is now expected within the next few hours. The Poland international will become Arsenal’s second January signing after Leandro Trossard.
SportsLeo looks at who Jakub Kiwior is and how he’ll fit into Arteta’s master plan.
Kiwior began his football career at his hometown club before joining Anderlecht’s youth academy in 2016, with the Belgian giants paying around £11,400 for the 16-year-old.
He tested himself in Slovakia with Podbrezova and MSK Zilina after making five UEFA Youth League appearances for Anderlecht in two and a half years.
During his final season with MSK Zilina, Kiwior helped the Slovakian minnows make the Europa Conference League qualifiers, where he played every minute of his side’s eight games before losing in the final qualifying round to Jablonec.
Kiwior’s domestic and European exploits piqued the interest of Serie A newcomers Spezia, who paid €2.2 million (£1.9 million) to bring the versatile Polish defender to Italy in August 2021, and his career has only gotten better since.
Kiwior sat on the bench for the first two months of the 2021-22 season as he adjusted to the rigours of Italian top-flight football before making his competitive debut for Spezia against Inter Milan on December 1.
The Pole didn’t have the best game, picking up a yellow card as his side lost 2-0 to the then-champions, and he was dropped to the bench again for Spezia’s subsequent 2-2 draw with Sassuolo before becoming a regular first-teamer.
Initially playing as a defensive midfielder, Kiwior made 21 starts in Serie A as Spezia avoided relegation to Serie B, finishing 16th, and he transitioned to a centre-back role for the 2022-23 season, starting each of his side’s 17 Serie A fixtures before talks with Arsenal heated up.
Kiwior’s left-footedness has been used in a full-back and wing-back role, as well as in the heart of a back three and at the base of the midfield, and it is easy to see why Arteta has singled out the 22-year-old as an ideal fit for his system.
At 6’2′, Kiwior is a physically imposing defender who times his tackles well and is confident on the ball, capable of picking out a long pass and breaking the lines under pressure. He is not afraid to drive forward into space if the opportunity arises.
In the past year, Kiwior has ranked in the 91st percentile for blocks versus centre-backs, which is unsurprising given Spezia’s struggles in Serie A. He will not shy away from corner or free-kick duties.
Kiwior has represented Poland from Under-16 to senior level, and former first-team manager Czeslaw Michniewicz mentored him in the Under-21s before stepping up to the first team.
The centre-back earned his first senior cap for Poland in June 2022, playing the full 90 minutes of a 2-2 UEFA Nations League draw with the Netherlands, and he retained his spot for the rest of the 2021-22 tournament, including a 1-0 win over Wales in September.
Despite his inexperience, Kiwior earned Michniewicz’s trust and was called up to the squad for the 2022 World Cup, where he did not miss a single minute of action in Group C, assisting Poland in keeping clean sheets.
Kiwior’s efforts helped Poland qualify for the last 16, and he remained in the starting lineup for the Eagles’ knockout match against France. Still, he was substituted in the 87th minute as Poland lost 3-1 to the eventual runners-up.
The soon-to-be Arsenal defender expects to play a critical role in the Eagles’ bid for Euro 2024 qualification later this year, and fellow left-footer Gabriel will appreciate the cover and competition Kiwior will provide as the Gunners battle for Premier League, Europa League, and FA Cup titles in the coming months.