After signing for Arsenal in January, Krystian Bielik has gone on to feature 10 times for our u21s and he believes he’s adapting to the English game gradually.

The English league is known for its physicality and pace, so when 17-year-old Pole Bielik arrived in January, he wasn’t fully sure what to expect.

“The physicality was something new for me,” Bielik said “I only started playing centre back this season and it’s the first time I’ve had to mark strikers who are running in behind.

“It’s also the first time that I’ve had to win headers. When I play in defensive midfield I don’t really have to run as much to mark players, so marking a striker at centre back is a lot more physical and has been a new experience for me.”

The defender continued, “A lot of the time they ran behind me to go one-on-one with our goalkeeper, so that is definitely something that I need to improve on. We spoke a lot after the game and the coaches told me what I needed to do to improve and this has really helped me, and I think I really improved on that in the West Ham United game.”

Bielik added, “It also really helps to have Julio Pleguzuelo playing alongside me because he controls our defensive line and tells me when to get up. He is a great leader and really helps me play well because of all the advice he gives me.”

Despite not being used to the demanding nature of English football, Bielik has only picked up one yellow card in the 10 matches he’s featured in, which is a positive sign. Often, when defenders feel out of their depth or frustrated because they can’t get a foothold in the game, they end up committing risky fouls. To see the 17-year-old not doing this shows he’s handling the tempo probably better than even he thinks he is.

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For a young player like Bielik, it’s all a learning curve at the moment. The centre-back may feel as if he’s been thrown in the deep end a bit now, but the hard work will pay off in no time.