Progress report: Krystian Bielik

Since his 19th birthday at the start of January this year, it’s fair to say that Bielik has continued to progress at a rapid rate and his performances have thankfully not gone unnoticed.

Having sealed a deadline day switch to Championship side, Birmingham City, he was an important part of an improved backline which avoided relegation after a catalogue of poor decisions within the club as well as a drastic run of disappointing form.

It’s easy to forget he made five Ekstraklasa appearances and a late UEFA Europa League cameo in the 2014/15 campaign before joining Arsenal. Since then, his versatility has been tested and in a more defensive role. He’s keen to learn but has already made significant steps to improving.

Composed in possession, unafraid to make brave challenges and increasingly assured as he earned more minutes, Bielik is keen to continue playing regularly.

His towering presence and leadership qualities were a notable absence at the back for Arsenal u23s after his departure.

Disappointingly, Bielik only made one substitute appearance in Birmingham’s final three league fixtures of the season, having made seven consecutive starts as part of a three-man defence beforehand.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering Harry Redknapp was appointed interim boss, mainly because he has a tendency to prefer fielding more experienced defenders where possible.

However, the season overall was an excellent one for Bielik and he’s admitted that a deal to join Norwich is close.

For now though, he’ll be focused on impressing at international level, having earned a call-up to Poland’s u21 side for this summer’s European Championships.

With 16 international caps already at youth level, this is a significant step in the right direction before he makes his long-awaited senior debut.

Poland are in a group alongside England, Slovakia and Sweden and hopefully Bielik is afforded opportunities to start at the back for the host nation with the tournament, justifying why he’s so highly-rated in north London.

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