West Brom manager Tony Pulis arguably pulled off the shock move of the summer transfer window to date after announcing the season-long loan signing of Paris Saint-Germain’s Grzegorz Krychowiak.
After confirming the signing of Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs on Wednesday morning, the Baggies certainly went one better later that evening with Krychowiak, becoming the seventh summer arrival. Speaking about the move, the Polish international told West Brom’s official website:
“I had a lot of propositions from Spain and Italy but this is a very ambitious club. There’s a good atmosphere here.”
The 27-year-old has struggled for regular first-team action at PSG since arriving from Spanish side Sevilla last summer, managing just 19 appearances across all competitions in France last campaign. But there’s always going to be a bit of shock factor around a move that entails a player from one of Europe’s elite joining a mid-table Premier League outfit, and here, The Boot Room dissects the stats behind the hype.
16 – Natural anticipation of the game
One thing that Tony Pulis loves in a player is a sense of discipline, a sense of positioning and a burning desire to give 100% commitment to the cause, and Krychowiak will tick all of these boxes.
Despite only making 11 appearances in Ligue 1 last season – and only seven starts – he still made 16 interceptions and 28 defensive clearances at an average of just under four defensive actions per game, not a bad return at all considering the fact that PSG are so dominant against most other sides.
And these statistics will no doubt leave Pulis going to bed with a smile on his face tonight as he considers the magnitude of the signing he has just made, stealing Krychowiak away from a number of top sides.
88 – Confidence driving forward
There’s a reason that Krychowiak has made a name for himself as a box-to-box midfielder in both Spain and France over the past three years, and he’s equally adept at attacking as he is defending.
It’s undeniable that the catalyst for his move to PSG came from stand-out displays in the 2016 European Championships, leading Poland to the quarter-finals before losing to eventual winners Portugal.
During the tournament he completed 88% of his take-ons in the opposition half, showing his innate sense of driving forward into attack, and West Brom are in for a treat if he adds this to the Hawthorns.
This wasn’t a fluke either, as during his two seasons at Sevilla he ended with 67% and 70% success rates respectively, and it’s clear to see he will have a big attacking impetus to push the Baggies on in games.
92 – Dictator of possession in the midfield
And another reason for West Brom fans to get excited is down to the 27-year-old’s ability to both retain possession in midfield and utilise his expansive range of distribution to carve open chances.
He enjoyed an impressive 92% passing accuracy at PSG last season – ahead of the likes of Blaise Matuidi, Marco Veratti and Angel Di Maria – and he’s shown he’s at his best when orchestrating play from deep.
He only misplaced 31 passes in 11 matches last year, completing 503 by contrast, and if he can provide this level of consistency and reliability at West Brom this season then they’ll be a far more solid outfit.
2 – Winner on the biggest stage
Before Krychowiak completed his move to France in 2016, for £28 million according to The Guardian, he caught the attention of Europe’s elite – namely PSG – by helping Sevilla’s unprecedented charge to three consecutive Europa League titles.
Arriving in Seville after they secured the first title in 2014, the Polish international starred on their route to two more finals – scoring in the triumph over Ukrainian outfit Dnipro in 2015 – and he was so influential both times that he was named in the UEFA Europa League squad of the season twice in a row.
It means that Krychowiak will bring a level of European pedigree that has previously been unseen at the Hawthorns, and it’s likely he may prove to be as big a presence in the dressing room as he is on the field.