Polish midfielder Krystian Bielik joined Arsenal from Legia Warsaw last January, to little fanfare.
Now a household name, having never featured for the first-team, it must have been difficult for a 17 year-old to arrive in a new country.
Set to play for Arsenal u21s again this season, Bielik has explained how some rather big names at the club helped him settle in at London Colney.
“When I started I had individual training sessions with Robert Pires,” the midfielder told Arsenal.com. “I also trained with Jack Wilshere who was very nice to me.
“In my first week I saw some of the best players in the world and that was an amazing experience. Now I see them every day, how they play on the pitch and how they train, and it really helps me.”
Bielik, who has played 8 times for Poland u17s, is a midfielder but has also been used in defence since his arrival at Arsenal. That’s promising, showing he can adapt and has different sides to his game.
“Sometimes I speak with Per [Mertesacker], who tells me to keep things simple rather than trying to do too much,” the midfielder revealed. Able to play in midfield or at the back, Arsenal will only benefit if he plays the game altruistically, sacrificing himself and personal glory.
“I will be better for the team if I keep things simple, so that was great advice that he has given me.”
The Pole is yet to make his mark on the Arsenal first-team but, after featuring in seven professional games for Legia Warsaw at the age of 16 last season, won’t be resting on his laurels just yet.
Signing for Arsenal is a dream come true, but nothing has been achieved at the club just yet.
“Playing for Arsenal is a dream but I know that I’m here to learn more,” Bielik said. “I want to show everybody that I’m a good player and that I can train with the first team so that one day I can prove that I can play for the first team.”
His next opportunity to prove himself will come at Emirates Stadium, where Arsenal face Fulham on Friday. Maybe his first opportunity to play for the first-team will also come at the stadium, possibly even in the League Cup this season.
“It’s a very nice stadium,” the midfielder told the official club website. “The pitch is slick and we can play beautiful passing football on it.
“I’m a bit more used to playing in big stadiums than most teenagers because I played for the first team at Legia Warsaw in front of 30,000 fans. But I think my first game for the Arsenal first team will be even more amazing in front of 60,000.”