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Polish teenager Krystian Bielik signs for Arsenal: Wenger returning to frugal past?

Krystian Bielik

Photograph: Mateusz Kostrzewa/Fo

Over the years Arsene Wenger has had plenty of success unearthing young gems for small sums of cash.

The Gunners boss has had another flutter on a teenager, as the north London club announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed Polish midfielder Krystian Bielik for $3.8 million.

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Bielik, 17, can play in either central defense or as a central midfielder and will intialy link up with Arsenal’s U-21 side before progressing to the first team squad.

After making his debut for Legia at the age of 16 and already playing in the Europa League, Bielik has plenty of experience under his belt for a 17-year-old. The Polish youth international recently spent time training with the Gunners and Italian giants AS Roma before signing a long-term contract at the Emirates.

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When you look around at previous youngsters to be bought by Arsenal at a young age and then developed at the club before moving into the first team and perhaps elsewhere, it shows that Wenger has a pretty good record.

Alex Song, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers have all been bought by Wenger under the age of 21 and have flourished in the Premier League after proving their worth in Arsenal’s. Along the way, of course, there have been a few young signings who haven’t worked out, but the signing of Bielik does conjure up this question: are the Gunners returning to their frugal ways?

In the past Arsenal had to pay off a hefty loan used to fund the new Emirates Stadium, hence why Wenger signed players at a young age and for small fees and gave them time to grow and develop into first team stars. More recently, the transfer policy has shifted as Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck have all arrived in big money moves over the past 18 months.

With Wenger often slated by Arsenal fans for not spending big on star names, it seemed like that trend had ended. In the signing of a Polish teenager for almost $4 million, it is curious to see Wenger’s thinking on this one. Money clearly needs to be spent on a new holding midfielder and central defender who can step in now to bolster their chances of a top four finish in the PL and a deep run in the UEFA Champions League. The Gunners have been heavily linked with a move for Brazilian defender Paulista from Villarreal, who could cost over $15 million.

But Wenger, as always, is a man with a plan. Let’s see where he’s going with his.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports