Derby County midfielder Krystian Bielik has admitted he rejected a chance to remain at Arsenal last summer, before completing his reported (Telegraph) £9.5 million move to Pride Park.
The Polish international was signed by Arsenal in 2015 and was considered a top prospect for the future. Arsene Wenger publicly backed the Polish star. As reported by The Guardian, Wenger called Bielik a ‘gamble’ and expressed excitement at a potential first-team future for the player.
“Yes, he will go into the first-team squad. He’s a defensive midfielder, 6ft 2in [tall], he has a good energy level and technical level. It’s a gamble but, on what we saw, it’s worth to take the gamble. It’s an awful lot of money for a player if he doesn’t succeed. If he does succeed, then it’s cheap.”
But the combative Polish talent struggled with injuries at Arsenal and had spells on loan at Birmingham City, Walsall, and Charlton Athletic before Derby decided to snap him up last summer.
All in all, his Arsenal career amounted to just two EFL Cup appearances in five years.
Speaking to Przeglad Sportowy in his homeland, Bielik stated that Unai Emery and Arsenal still wanted to keep him on board last summer but he did not see a future for himself at The Emirates and decided on a move to Derby.
“Last summer, I couldn’t agree with Arsenal about signing a new contract. Apparently they wanted me in London, but somehow it wasn’t really visible.
“I had several offers then, including from England, Italy and France. But when it came to details and Arsenal revealed how much money they wanted for me, only Derby remained.
“Arsenal sensed that they were able to spend the largest amount for me, so they approached the matter purely as business to earn as much as possible. Derby’s proposal was accepted and when the matter was called, I immediately decided that it would be a good step…”
It has not been an ideal move to Derby for the player. Despite flashes of his obvious ability, the 22-year-old suffered a serious knee injury playing for the under-23s in January and is still recovering from the injury.
But there is no doubt that he is likely to receive more first-team football at Derby and hopefully develop into the talent Wenger thought he might.
For Arsenal fans, it will just be a shame it is not with them.