Arsenal starlet Krystian Bielik has revealed that individual training sessions with club legend Robert Pires helped him return to full fitness after signing for the club.
The Polish U17 international joined the Gunners from Legia Warsaw in January 2015, with Arsene Wenger reportedly paying in the region of £2.4million to bring the young midfielder to the Emirates Stadium.
Pires and Jack Wilshere helped the 17-year-old integrate to life in north London, and after making seven appearances for the club's U21s last term, Bielik is eager to realise his dream and represent the club's first team in the future.
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“When I started I had individual training sessions with Robert Pires. He gave me a lot of advice and helped my regain my fitness because I had been out for so long," Bielik told the official Arsenal website.
“I also trained with Jack Wilshere who was very nice to me. In my first week I saw some of the best players in the world and that was an amazing experience. Now I see them every day, how they play on the pitch and how they train, and it really helps me.
“Sometimes I speak with Per, who tells me to keep things simple rather than trying to do too much. I will be better for the team if I keep things simple, so that was great advice that he has given me.
“Playing for Arsenal is a dream but I know that I’m here to learn more. I want to show everybody that I’m a good player and that I can train with the first team so that one day I can prove that I can play for the first team.
Bielik is poised to play at the Emirates for the second time in his career on Friday, when Steve Gatting's side meet Fulham on the first team pitch. Bielik's first taste of action in the stadium came last season when the second string beat Stoke 4-1 back in April. Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta also featured in the game.
Having played in front of big crowds during his progression in Poland, the 17-year-old is not intimidated by the size of the ground and is one day hoping to make an impact with a sell-out 60,000 watching his movements.
“It’s a very nice stadium. The pitch is slick and we can play beautiful passing football on it," he added.
"I’m a bit more used to playing in big stadiums than most teenagers because I played for the first team at Legia Warsaw in front of 30,000 fans. But I think my first game for the Arsenal first team will be even more amazing in front of 60,000.”
After their clash against the Cottagers tomorrow, the Arsenal U21s then face Derby and West Ham in consecutive weeks, and Bielik hoping to impress senior management for a shot at some first team action.