Arsenal have announced the signing of Polish central defender Jakub Kiwior from Serie A side Spezia for a reported fee of €25m (£21.9m). The player has signed a five-year contract (with the option for a further year) and has been handed the number 15 shirt, last worn by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is on loan at Southampton.
The signing comes as something of a surprise for Arsenal fans. Not only did this transfer essentially come out of nowhere (as did their summer capture of Fábio Vieira from FC Porto), but it was also not a position that many fans expected Arsenal to fill in the January window.
Arsenal’s primary focus for the winter transfer window, was to bring in a wide attacker and potentially a central midfielder. The club have already filled the former position by signing Belgian winger Leandro Trossard from Brighton & Hove Albion, while a central midfielder remains a priority for the summer window.
Kiwior, is a central defender, a position many Arsenal fans would have assumed would have waited for the summer.
Mikel Arteta has been vocal behind the scenes about his desire for the club to have another left-footed central defender at the club to compete with Gabriel Magalhães, with Pablo Marí expected to leave in the summer. The club had previously tried to recruit Frieburg’s Nico Schlotterbeck, however, the defender opted to join Borussia Dortmund instead.
Rumours had abounded over the course of the January window that Arsenal were close to signing a pre-contract agreement with Frankfurt defender Evan N’Dicka. With recruitment focuses being pulled into other areas it was thought that N’Dicka would provide a low-cost alternative, making Kiwior’s signing all the more mysterious.
Kiwior began his career in Slovakia, starting in the Fortuna Liga for FK Železiarne Podbrezová. After making his debut, he was soon snapped up by MŠK Žilina, also of the Fortuna Liga.
While at MŠK Žilina, Kiwior began to catch the attention of many abroad. Serie A side Spezia were the quickest to react and brought him to Italy after three years in Slovakia.
While in Italy, Kiwior has played 37 league games for Spezia. In that time, Kiwior has deputised as a central defensive midfielder as well as a central defender and has made it clear on multiple occasions that he is willing to try out in other positions as well. Kiwior has also collected 9 caps for his native Poland.
Having appropriately versatile back-ups has been a cornerstone of Mikel Arteta’s recruitment strategy.
Meanwhile, the club are also hoping to conclude a deal for Real Valladolid’s Iván Fresneda and potentially finalise a departure for Cédric Soares, amidst interest from Fulham.