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FEATURE | Grzegorz Krychowiak – Pulis’s new Pole with a point to prove

To suggest that Grzegorz Krychowiak’s time in Paris has been a disappointment would be an understatement. The Poland International arrived in Paris via Seville with much hope and expectation after his exploits in Andalucía, including helping Los Rojiblancos to two out of their three Europa League triumphs.

Coming off the back of an impressive Euro 2016 campaign with Poland, Unai Emery swooped for the Pole for a reported €30m fee which reunited him with the combative midfielder after their exploits together at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

It was supposed to be the start of a new midfield cycle at PSG after the exit of Laurent Blanc and the early signs pointed to Emery implementing his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation which would see Krychowiak as the successor to the ageing Thiago Motta, playing alongside Marco Verratti.

However, due to reported player discontent with the new formation, Emery quickly reverted back to Blanc’s 4-3-3 and the Motta-Verratti-Matuidi tried and trusted combination.

In truth, the combination was stale and needed an injection of energy; the type of vigour that Krychowiak could provide in front of the back four.

The Poland International joined up with the PSG squad late due to his participation in the European Championships and didn’t feature in PSG’s first three games of the season. As PSG struggled to adapt to Emery’s methods, Krychowiak was used sporadically throughout the first 2-3 months of the season.

However, as the pressure built on Emery, and as the big personalities in the changing room became more vocal, the opportunity for change became too risky for Emery and Krychowiak was one of the players to suffer the most.

Scant game time through October and November impacted the confidence and fitness of the ex-Sevilla man and this was highlighted when Krychowiak was handed a surprise start in the Champions League encounter in late November against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The Pole had a night to forget as he looked way off the pace and conceded a needless penalty just before half-time to allow Arsenal back into the game. Krychowiak was hauled off mid-way through the second half.

It was a defining night for Krychowiak and one that unfairly cemented his position in the squad and his place way down the pecking order. The midfielder then went on to make just nine more appearances in rouge et bleu over four competitions, playing a full 90 minutes just three times in six months.

Amongst the unfortunate situation Krychowiak found himself in, the midfielder showed an admirable level of professionalism in his attitude to the squad. Regularly finding himself in the stands and not selected for the match day squad, he continued to work to fight his way back into Unai Emery’s plans rather than using the media to voice his displeasure or seeking a move away, showing the true measure of the man.

It was inevitable that Krychowiak was going to leave PSG this summer. On his day, the Poland International is too good to sit on the bench and in a World Cup year he cannot afford have a second successive season without game time.

West Bromwich Albion presents the Pole with the perfect platform with which to rebuild his stuttering career. His ubiquitous and combative style is ideal for the Premier League and whilst many were surprised that Krychowiak chose West Brom, the move presents him with a less pressurised opportunity to play football and regain some of the confidence lost in Paris.

So what are West Brom getting in Grzegorz Krychowiak?

A big, strong midfielder with a good engine. A hard-working disciplined player that can transition defence to attack quickly. Krychowiak has a good array of long and short passing and has a sound reading of the game.

Admittedly, whilst technically limited and not the quickest, he makes up for those margins with his hard-working and meticulous displays – which is seemingly a pre-requisite for a Premier League football fan.

There shouldn’t be too many concerns about Krychowiak adapting to the Premier League, his style is well suited and he will be hopeful of finding his form again quickly.

Interestingly, PSG have agreed to a loan with no option to buy at a time when the capital club need to sell to balance their books ahead of Financial Fair-Play regulations. This could suggest that Unai Emery hasn’t completely given up on the midfielder; a wise move considering Thiago Motta is now 35 and in the twilight of his decorated career. Moreover, a renewed bid for Fabinho next summer could be quashed by FFP after the agreement to pay AS Monaco a reported €180m for Kylian Mbappé next July.

Ideally, Krychowiak will have a strong season in England that will either raise the value of the player amongst the riches of Premier League clubs ahead of a potential permanent move; or he will show Unai Emery that he is ready to compete for his place in the PSG midfield.

Either way, this is good business for both clubs and Krychowiak himself and all parties will hope that the Pole can find some form to get his career back on track.

This could be one of the most astute signings of the transfer window and certainly one of Tony Pulis’ best acquisitions as he continues to build a strong looking squad at The Hawthorns. It is unlikely that the ex-Sevilla man will stay at West Brom beyond this season but if he can help push Albion on in their pursuit of a top 8 finish then it could be a wonderful piece of business for the club, if only for one year.

 



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