A tweet from Rory Smith at the Times yesterday morning sent waves through the Arsenalverse with news that Arsenal were sending “chief negotiator” Dick Law to Poland to try and conclude a deal for Legia Warsaw starlet Krystian Bielik.
He will arrive on Tuesday [deal details below].
It’s a deal that has been on the cards for a while with Bielik admitting that he had decided to join Arsenal and that he expected a deal to be completed very soon – so I’d be surprised if it wasn’t signed, sealed and delivered in the near future (or at Arsenal speed in any case).
What isn’t overly clear though is in what capacity Bielik is joining the club. Is it to jump straight into the first team squad? Or is it to spend time with the under 21’s before stepping up at a later date? Arsenal are believed to have laid out a three-year plan to get him into the first team, but will that be something they will stick with or will they fast-track him?
The larger question therefore should actually be what does Bielik potentially signing mean in terms of defensive midfield for the club? With Francis Coquelin finding form (but yet to agree a new deal), will Wenger wait until the summer before looking for the anchorman that the club desperately needs? Or in Bielik (and to an extent in Coquelin) – does Wenger now think that he has FOUND what the club needs?
A lot could hinge on the young Frenchman’s form until the end of the season and his contract situation – because if his form continues to improve Arsenal could well save themselves a fair amount of money through his stepping up.
On the contract situation, Wenger could well have told him to play for a new deal, or something could have already been agreed in principle in the background on his recall from Charlton. It would actually surprise me much more if nothing had been discussed and that this time was being treated as a ‘shop window’ time for Coquelin – especially given Wenger’s comments about wanting him to have a big future at the club.
Of course with his contract running down there is always the risk that another club could sign him on a pre-contract now – but after the Flamini situation of a few years ago – I doubt that is a risk that Wenger will be willing to take.
The only nagging doubt I can’t shift out of my mind in this scenario though is why Bielik would be so keen to join the club if he knew that another young (ish) player was about to be signed as well and would also be above him in the pecking order.
And with that I can’t put my finger on exactly why – but I don’t think that Wenger will sign another defensive midfielder in January (bar Bielik and injury crisis 4564), and I’m also growing less convinced that Wenger will buy another one in the summer.
Coquelin’s form and contract will be key – but the signing of Bielik could well prove to be more significant than it is initially made out to be. And that in itself is something that will divide the opinion of Arsenal fans.
Feel happy though – at least I didn’t mention the other option. “When Diaby returns from injury he is going to be like a new signing”.
I can already sense your groans.
Arsenal are believed to have offered a deal that totals £1.7m with clauses and bonuses tied in and only half being paid upfront but the Polish side want £2.5m upfront or £2m with an extra £750,000 added on in performance-related bonuses [Source The Times, paywall].
The difference in valuation has allowed Hamburg to get involved with the player reportedly flying to Germany to meet with the club at the weekend hence the urgency in Dick Law’s travels.
Legia’s president, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, said
“For the Germans, money does not matter, but let’s see what happens after final talks with Arsenal.”