Having been identified as a possible future first-team player for so long, Krystian Bielik has received a setback in his quest to succeed at Arsenal.
The signing of fellow centre-back Konstantinos Mavropanos, who is less than a month older than him, has pushed the Polish youngster further down the pecking order, with his path into the first-team squad now less clear.
Having made a major impact in training after joining the club, Mavropanos was named on the bench for the Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg fixture away to Chelsea this week, while he has also been added to Arsenal’s first-team squad.
Bielik was training with the senior squad recently but hasn’t done so since Mavropanos’ arrival and now has an extra incentive to impress if, as expected, he goes out on loan this month.
Having produced some excellent performances for Birmingham City in the Championship in the second half of last season, it was anticipated that Bielik would go out on loan again this campaign.
However, an injury suffered during an U23 game against Manchester City scuppered those plans and Bielik only returned to action last month.
Having worked his way back to full fitness, Bielik should head out on loan again in the next couple of weeks, with the Championship likely to be his destination once more.
After joining Arsenal as a defensive-midfielder, the prospect has developed well as a centre-back during his three years at the club and will still harbour hopes of making the breakthrough.
Mavropanos, however, now represents an extra obstacle in Bielik’s path, especially given that the club already have two other young first-team centre-backs in Calum Chambers and Rob Holding.
Bielik was already determined to impress on loan, but now he has an additional reason to demonstrate his credentials and it will be intriguing to see how he fares.
Competition for places is part of football and if Mavropanos turns out to be a success then there will be few complaints if Bielik is frozen out as a consequence.
However, the latter’s chances of becoming a first-team player at Arsenal are far from over and he will now be eager to demonstrate just what he is capable of.