Meet Sevilla's all-action enforcer wanted by Arsenal and Southampton
The 60-second story
- Date of birth: January 29, 1990
- Place of birth: Gryfice, Poland
- Height: 6ft 1in
- Position: Defensive midfielder
- Club: Sevilla (48 apps, 4 goals)
- Former club(s): Bordeaux, Nantes, Reims
- International: Poland (24 caps, 1 goal)
It's taken a while for Grzegorz Krychowiak to catch the attention of football's top tier, but the Sevilla midfielder's all-round technical capacity means that he's unlikely to steer clear of it now.
Born in the small Polish town of Gryfice, in the country's north-west, the 25-year-old had four different youth sides in his homeland before arriving in Bordeaux aged 16. He spent six years on the French club's books, although three of those were spent on loan at Nantes and Reims. The north of France became his home once again in 2012 when he joined the latter side permanently, and showed signs of reaching his potential under the guidance of now-Lyon boss Hubert Fournier.
His headed goal in a shock 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain helped attract admirers from around Ligue 1, and Fournier wanted to take Krychowiak with him when he joined Lyon.
The Polish defensive midfielder joined Sevilla last summer, however, and has continued his ascent – he became one of only three players outside of La Liga's top two to make the 2014/15 Liga BBVA team of the season chosen by the writers of the LFP website.
Meanwhile, he helped his national side record a historic win over Germany. It was the first time that Poland had beaten them in their history, and the Germans' first defeat in qualifying for seven years.
His fantasy debut season in Spain was completed as Sevilla won the Europa League final in Warsaw, where he scored the Spaniards' first goal. "Dreams do come true," said Krychowiak. "This has been a wonderful year, crowning all my work until now. It really felt like home in front of the Polish and Sevilla fans."
Why you need to know him
It appears that nearly all of the Premier League's finest teams are in need of a talented holding midfielder this summer, and Krychowiak certainly fits the bill. He recently left agent Cezary Kucharski to join British company Stellar, who also look after Arsenal goalkeeper and international team-mate Wojciech Szczesny.
In fact, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and scout Gilles Grimandi have been tracking him since his time at Reims and look likely to make an approach. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton, Borussia Dortmund and PSG have all shown varying degrees of interest.
At Sevilla he's become a mainstay at Unai Emery's Andalusian outfit, even avoiding the boss's renowned rotation policy. Only Krychowiak and top scorer Carles Bacca started over 30 games in the league last term, as los Rojiblancos successfully competed domestically and abroad simultaneously.
His job stopping Lionel Messi in the game against Barcelona was performed to perfection. Few players are able to catch the Argentine when running at speed but Krychowiak not only recovered superbly to make his challenge, but also took the ball in a complete manoeuvre.
Krychowiak has all the attributes to be a perfect modern day midfield anchorman, having been predominantly used as the deepest midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 at Sevilla. His tactical intelligence appears to have grown under the instruction of Emery. The 25-year-old is a competent passer of the ball, although mainly in the centre of the field and rarely in the final third.
Meanwhile, his aerial ability means that he often wins defensive duels and also causes havoc in the opposition box from set-pieces. He won 82 tackles last season, which was the third highest of any player in La Liga. Interceptions and clearances are other strong areas. His reading of the game means that his positioning is scarcely wrong and that enables him to make vital blocks during opposition attacks.
His aggressive nature can be a negative at times, and he racked up the fourth-highest average for fouls per game in Spain's top flight last term. This led to 19 yellow cards in all competitions, including a streak where he was booked six games in a row. It's not his main priority, but he could add more to the team in attack given his abilities. He averages four goals per season and last year provided only one assist.
"Krychowiak is a demanding player: he demands a lot from himself and from those around him. He is absolutely committed," said Emery. "He is made of something special, he is made of tough, special material. The opportunity to play in the Champions League will fulfil him and make him develop further."
Did you know?
Krychowiak's brother persuaded him to leave home and join a sports academy. The player wasn't even that fussed about football. That changed when he realised his capability and his athletic frame matured.
- Shooting 4
- Heading 9
- Passing 8
- Tackling 9
- Pace 7
- Dribbling 7
- Creativity 5
- Work-rate 8
What happens next?
Southampton's bid of £9 million was turned down recently, but Krychowiak has made it known that he wants to play Champions League football. If one of last season's top four in England meet the buyout clause of £22 million, then the tough-tackling Pole will almost certainly make the move.
A likely fee is probably somewhere in between, although those clubs may feel there are cheaper options out there and look to reinforce elsewhere in their squad. For now, both Krychowiak and Emery are happy for him to stay at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan should no one provide the adequate funds.