It’s been nine months since Jacob Kuyor arrived at Arsenal, but given his stunning £20m transfer from Spezia, when he traded a Serie A relegation battle for a Premier League title challenge, the soft-spoken centre-back is still smiling. .
“Emotions were high from the beginning, even from the moment I heard rumors they were interested in me,” he says. Sky Sports In a quiet corner of the club’s training ground. “That alone was huge for me. After that, I was very happy to sign.”
He couldn’t have been happier when, the day before his transfer was officially announced, he was invited to watch Arsenal’s pulsating 3-2 win over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium, a thrilling spectacle that showed him first-hand what he was about to get into. .
“If you’re already with us, you’re already with us,” Oleksandr Zinchenko said as he pulled his new teammate into the dressing room afterward. “Emotions were high at that time too,” Kiyur adds, smiling again. “I was really happy that I was able to do it.”
Arsenal had been monitoring him closely but the deal came as a surprise to almost everyone. Kewer, 23, came with great potential but little fame. He made his debut in Poland just six months ago. Before joining Spezia in 2021, he played for Zilina in Slovakia.
It is no surprise, then, that Mikel Arteta has chosen to sleep slowly. In addition to being new to the level, the Kiwior arrived with no knowledge of the English language. He had to wait two months for it to premiere.
“I wanted to play minutes as soon as possible, but I was told that I needed to calm down, that I needed time to settle down,” he says, speaking with the help of a translator as he continues his efforts to learn the language.
“Those two months were important for me. It was a big change. I just tried to focus in the training sessions and settle down. The minutes were finally coming, so it was a very valuable time.”
He made his Europa League debut against Sporting in March. Then, after appearances against Crystal Palace and Liverpool, he excelled in his Premier League debut, a 3-1 win over Chelsea that reignited Arsenal’s title hopes – albeit temporarily.
“Every match is important, but it’s good for me that I played well against Chelsea,” he says. “It encouraged me to keep working hard.
“Then, scoring my first goal in the last game of the season against Wolves was also special. Of course, we were already winning, but it’s always important to score your first goal for the club.”
It was also important to make a positive impression on Arteta. “He’s a player I really like, that’s why I signed him,” the Arsenal boss said in May. “He has the potential, at his age, to be great.”
Arteta is not alone in rating Keiyur highly. Robert Lewandowski, his Polish teammate, praised his “exceptional” abilities after his first international call-up last year. His continued progress at Arsenal ensures he will feature more prominently this season.
Not that he had left the praise on his head. Kiyoor is a quiet person and his shyness is evident in this interview, one of his first major interviews as an Arsenal player. But there is a toughness to him too.
“It’s very nice to hear such positive words from your coach,” he says of Arteta’s comments. “Obviously it helps boost your confidence. But I try not to think about it too much because I know it can have a counter-effect as well.”
It’s an attitude that should serve him well under a manager who strives for continuous improvement and whose admiration is mutual.
“I will say what all the other players say – the relationship and cooperation are very good, and so are his tactics,” he says.
“He is able to convey what he means very well. Even if I want to say something negative, there is nothing negative to say.”
Keiyur was particularly impressed by the Spaniard’s attention to detail, including the creative and motivational team talks featured in All or nothing Documentary two seasons ago.
“It’s very different from what I’m used to,” he says. “Coming here, it’s the first time I’ve seen this last encounter before going out on the field look like it does here. It’s definitely something new.
“I was quite surprised that something like this could happen, where a coach could come up with these concepts to shape our attitude towards the game through all kinds of competitions and challenges to focus our minds.”
Kiwior embodies this focus like no one else. The Pole is still working to hold down a starting place in Arsenal’s defence, but is not frustrated by his inconsistent playing time; Just the determination to seize his opportunities when they come.
“We have excellent players here. The level of competition is very high. But I am happy that I am able to compete with these good players. Even if I am not selected in the starting lineup, I am trying to do my best.” better.
“I’m happy when I can help the team, so I don’t consider competition a bad thing.”
Most of Kewer’s appearances so far have come as centre-back, but his tactical intelligence has also seen him embrace the role of filling in at left-back. Back at Spezia, his ball-playing ability led to him being used in central midfield.
His versatility was a big part of his appeal for Arsenal. In fact, it was one of the first qualities Arteta mentioned after announcing his arrival. Keiyur, for his part, just wants to help the team in any position he can.
“I still think my favorite and best position is centre-back, but the coach decides where I play and I always know where I play before the match. Now, it’s not important for me. I feel good while playing. I’m happy as long as I have minutes on the field.”
Kewer seems comfortable about his prospects of playing more regularly. He learned the importance of patience and perseverance on the circuitous path to the top, which also shaped the steely mindset with which he approaches this new challenge in England.
At just 23 years old, he has already played in five different countries, moving from Poland to Belgium to enroll in Anderlecht’s academy as a teenager, then leaving for Slovakia in search of first-team football and moving to Spezia three years later.
“It was very important for me to play in different leagues as a young player,” he says. “Of course, playing at first-team level at a young age, there were high expectations and I learned a lot.
“It was difficult to get here. Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world and I am honored to play for them. But my previous experience was also very important. I have to thank all the clubs I played for before.”
His time in Serie A, a testing ground for young defenders, was particularly valuable. “It helped me, not only during training sessions, but also during matches. It was the best lesson I could learn as a defender, to be able to experience this football every week.”
The 18 months he spent there prepared him for his next step, but did he ever dream it would come to such a big club? Kiyoor shrugs. “I’m not sure I actually dreamed of it, but I focused on doing it and I’m glad I achieved that goal,” he says.
Now, his focus is on establishing himself in the Arsenal squad and helping them achieve a better performance than last season. “Every player wants to fight and get three points in every match,” he says. “We topped the ranking last year. This time, we hope we can maintain that ranking until the end.”
Jacob Kuyor, a soft-spoken centre-back with an attitude to match his ability, is more than ready to play his part.
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