Cesc Fabregas believes Jakub Kiwior is destined to become an important player for Arsenal and says he has only heard good things about the centre-back from the training ground.
The 23-year-old arrived at the Emirates in the January transfer window in a £21million deal from Italian club Spezia.
He has found first-team opportunities hard to come by in north London, however, making just two substitute appearances in the Premier League, and one start in the Europa League, prior to Tuesday’s match against Chelsea.
With William Saliba injured and Rob Holding struggling in the Frenchman’s absence, Kiwior was handed his first league start by manager Mikel Arteta.
The Poland international gave a good account of himself despite switching from his usual left centre-back role to the right and Arsenal’s defence felt far more solid than it had done in their previous four games – when they conceded 11 goals.
Despite his limited role since joining, Fabregas believes Kiwior could follow a similar trajectory to Saliba – who went from loanee to key man – and revealed he has impressed in training.
‘It’s a good call to have as well because apparently, from what I’ve heard, the boy is working really hard and training very well,’ said the former Arsenal captain on Sky Sports prior to Tuesday’s kick-off.
‘He’s very fast and he’s young. They also need him for next year I’m sure, like Saliba when he went on loan.
‘So now he needs games as well to know the players, to get to know each other, and I’m sure he will be an important player for the club.’
Fellow pundit Patrick Vieira added: ‘Losing Saliba has been a big one for them, because he was giving them this kind of physical presence.
‘Against Manchester City, against Erling Haaland, it was really difficult for the two centre-backs and losing [Saliba] was the start of Arsenal losing games and conceding goals.’
Arsenal did not manage to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea, however, with Noni Madueke pulling a goal back for the Blues in a 3-1 defeat.
Gabriel Magalhaes appeared to pick up an injury in the match that forced him off late on, which could see Kiwior switch to the left centre-back role and Holding come back into the defence for Sunday’s massive trip to Newcastle.