Arsenal are reportedly on the verge of signing Jakub Kiwior from Serie A side Spezia for ~£25m on a 5.5 year deal. I have experience watching Serie A but not much with Spezia in particular. I have seen him play a few times my impression is that he’s a very good one on one defender, with a great range of passing, who can play in a variety of positions, and who has a bit of technical skill about him to get out of trouble under pressure.
Kiwior played almost exclusively as a CM/DM last season and this season mostly as a CB. I admit I don’t remember much about him from 2021/22 because the one time Spezia played Atalanta that season, La Dea mopped them up and it was toward the end of the season when my attention span is very close to zero. I can say, however, that statistically there’s good evidence for why Luca Gotti moved him into the CB position. Plus Spezia have other MF options this season.
In short, Kiwior was below average in comparison to other midfielders in terms of passing and ball progression, but as he’s been moved back to the CB slot, those numbers have looked significantly better. I know he’s being touted as a solid backup for Arsenal’s #5 but I’m very cool on him playing as a MFer in the Premier League – not saying it’s not going to happen but just that I’d be surprised if he gets much, if any, time as a DM in a league that is as ruthless and physically and technically demanding as the Premier League.
He didn’t shine as a DM but as a CB, his overall passing numbers are almost double and he’s been able to hone in on one of his big talents: long range passing. He’s a left-footed player and we all know how much Arteta wants lefties to play on the left in defense and central midfield. One of the most impressive talents that Kiwior possesses is a switched long pass from left to right. Switches are a big part of Arteta’s Arsenal’s arsenal and Kiwior is (I believe) better at these types of long passes than Gabriel. I think you will enjoy watching him pick out Bukayo Saka on the right with a perfectly aimed 60 yard lofted diagonal (his specialty) when he gets the chance to play.
Under pressure he does like to dribble but it’s also not a crazy part of his game, we are talking less than 1 per contest even in midfield. My opinion is that he’s not as good as Saliba at dribbling and tends to overuse his left foot in these situations, Premier League players will be keyed into this right away. But! He’s not a terrible dribbler and as long as he’s not doing it all the time, it will serve him well to get out of pressure situations, and open up the field in front of him when the opponents press Arsenal high.
Defensively, he reads the game well, which is why he was put in the DM role. He’s aggressive in the tackle but not wild like Romero, and he is a very clean tackler, just 1 penalty in the last two years.
Overall, I think this is good business for the Arsenal. Kiwior is the type of signing we would have probably paid 15m for 6 months ago but Chelsea have inflated the market, Arsenal are top of the league (which has another tax), and Arsenal are buying in January rather than summer. LCB is one of the positions which I said we needed cover in this summer and so while I’m surprised by the timing of this signing, I’m not surprised by the type (left footed CB).
His versatility will come in handy at Arsenal, where we have players like Zinchenko sliding into midfield and Xhaka bombing forward. And I think that Kiwior is the exact type of player you would have seen a club like Brighton pick up for a few million and have had everyone in the Premier League coveting six months later. It’s also looking like Arsenal have pivoted away from spending big on one player and are looking to provide quality squad depth in many positions, which should make most folks happy.
I’m still worried about the DM position at Arsenal but many other folks seem convinced that we will go for a big ticket player there in the summer (Declan Rice is the most bandied name) and as such, buying a player who theoretically could help provide cover there (but is mostly cover for LCB) is a smart buy as it doesn’t gum up the works.
And finally,and most importantly, his girlfriend is the twerk queen of Germany.
Three points this weekend, please.