You wait all January for a shiny new player, then two come along in the space of 48 hours! Well, sort of…

That’s because yesterday as we were just starting to read all the #content in relation to Leandro Trossard, then out of nowhere we get an Ornbomb on Jakub Kiwior from Spezia. I’ll come to him in a second but first a wee word on Trossard. The deal is done, it was done in time for Sunday’s game against United and I think he’ll occupy the bench and provide comfort for Arteta that he has options. In the creative/attacking positions we now have Smith Rowe, Trossard and Fabio Vieira who can all play attacking positions and that is really good to know. We need to see how he will adapt to his new teammates but there are pictures of him training yesterday and I suspect the players will get a light training session in today so that is really positive to see as well. He’s a good squad signing, he’s Premier League ready and as I mentioned yesterday we should be happy that we have the bodies in now to cover our attacking line. Job done, we move.

And it appears ‘we move’ on to the next target straight away, as from out of nowhere yesterday, we got news that this young Polish centre half is travelling to The Arsenal from Italy to finalise a £20million for Jakub Kiwior from Spezia. I saw a great comparison from somebody on Twitter yesterday, talking about how this is the type of move we love a la Fabio Vieira in the summer. Nobody knew that was happening, nobody in the press got wind of the deal and then suddenly it’s all practically done and dusted and the player is flying to London for a medical. I guess in the era of Todd Boehly waving his wanger at any player with a pulse, this is how deals have to be done and in this day and age where social media and journalist info is so ingrained in the transfer process, we just aren’t going to get Sol Campbell-style transfers that mean a player suddenly walks out from behind a step-and-repeat sponsorship board. So this is the closest to it and I have to say having known absolute naff-all about the player, what I am now reading makes me think this is another astute move from the club.

Firstly, the fee, which is £20million and is perfectly manageable for a club of Arsenal’s size. The player doesn’t come in for an exorbitant amount of money, he therefore probably won’t be on massive wages as a result, but his own expectations for the immediate future will clearly also be that he is an understudy to Gabriel at centre half (he’s left footed). This is the sort of deal that we should be impressed with and for me it is because it is the sort of deal that a Brightondo, or how Leicester were doing four or five years ago. I’ve heard so many times Arsenal fans – rightly – say that “we should have been in for Player x before he went to Brighton. Because now we have to pay £60million for him”. Well, this guy feels like that kind of signing. The kind of signing that you see Wolves make, then in two years time they want three times the price. My hope for this deal and the price that it is at is that the player only has upside, can come in and do a good job for us, then he either becomes an integral member of the team, or he’s at least sold on for a profit in three years time if it hasn’t quite worked out. That’s the ‘outsmarting the market’ stuff that we were promised under Sanllehi that never really materialised.

Secondly, the player type and style himself, which is also particularly impressive. It only takes a bit of Googling to see why the club have moved for this guy. He’s only 22 yet has been a regular in Serie A this season. Italy loves a defender and that’s the first tick in the box. He’s left footed as I already mentioned and straight away you can see why Arteta wanted him. He loves to have right-footed right-sided centre halves, then left-footed left-sided centre-halves. And good ones are not easy to find in global football. I think the global statistics on humans that are right-dominant versus left-dominant is something like 90% to 10% in favour of the right. So if that is true for players footedness, then it shows you how you are looking at a rarity to find a quality lefty is very tough.

Thirdly, Arteta has always stated that he wants versatility in his players. He has built a squad of players who can play across multiple positions and therefore are more malleable both pre game as he sets his team up, but then also in game if he needs to tweak systems. Kiwicor – by the looks of it – has played in a variety of positions, with 97 professional matches as a centre half, 10 as a left back, but most interestingly for me, 22 games as a defensive midfielder. You know how we’ve had questions over who could deputise if Thomas Partey got injured? Well maybe this guys versatility gives Arteta the option? I’ve seen people talk about Ben White as a possible defensive midfielder and sure, he has the attributes, but he’s played 260 professional league football matches and only 13 as a defensive midfielder. Kiwior has played half of that and had nearly double the amount of games in at DM, so clearly he’s got a little bit more familiarity in the position. And it has happened recently too. This season he’s only played once as a DM for Spezia, but last season he made 21 appearances there. The last time White played in that position was in the 2020/12 season for Brighton. So for me I think this guy is coming in as the Gabriel cover, but I also think he is the Partey cover too and if Elneny is supposedly injured at the moment, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kiwior getting the nod in DM a little more as the games start to come thick and fast.

Even if he doesn’t and he’s earmarked as the deputy to Gabriel, that also gives us much needed rotation. In yesterday’s blog I mapped out a fully rotated team. But I struggled with a left centre half and so put Gabriel in there. But Kiwior’s arrival means we can take a game and rotate the entire squad if we wanted to. Or, as is probably more likely the case, Arteta blends the approach across games with a spattering of players rotated in and out to maintain consistency. Either way, this is a very interesting, sensible and exciting move and it makes me feel much more comfortable about our ability to cater for what is about to become an intense second half of the season.

A final point from me before I toddle off; I wonder if this signing is a kind of ‘semi stop gap’ signing for that understudy to Partey, before they go ‘big’ in the summer. We’ve heard stories about Declan Rice in recent days and if they really think they can get him and he is open to it, it will still cost a decent chunk of money, so having a guy as part of the plan who can also cover in another part of the pitch (defensive midfield) secures us for this season but doesn’t mean we buy an alternative too early and have to miss out on our main target. Just a thought.

Right, that’s me done for today. I’m off to do a day of jobs before the nervousness of tomorrow kicks in. Might tune in to see Liverpool v Chelsea later. Hopefully Liverpool give the Chavs a battering.