Amid reports he is now the most expensive Polish player in history, Grzegorz Krychowiak has joined Paris Saint-Germain from Sevilla, fresh from winning a second successive UEFA Europa League. UEFA.com’s Polish correspondent Piotr Koźmiński introduces ‘The Man With Four Lungs’.
“I am really glad to be joining PSG,” said Grzegorz Krychowiak as the transfer was confirmed. “I know they don’t just want success in France, but also to win the Champions League. I have won the Europa League twice, so my next goal is the same as PSG’s.” Having followed his old Sevilla boss Unai Emery to the Parc des Princes, Krychowiak is the kind of player that can add steel to any side, as his legion of fans in Poland, France and Spain will attest.
One of the crown jewels of the national team that reached the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals under Adam Nawałka, Krychowiak was born on Poland’s northern coast and moved abroad to sign for French outfit Bordeaux aged 16. “There was no doubt about that opportunity,” recalled Krychowiak, a trainee at Arka Gdynia at the time. “Me and my family made a quick decision. We knew I would have better conditions in France.” If not an instant hit at Bordeaux, the youngster settled in France, securing a permanent deal with Reims in 2012 – the same summer he played at UEFA EURO 2012 with Poland.
‘The Man With Four Lungs’
Krychowiak had already had two seasons on loan with Reims before that and one with Nantes, yet it was during his later stint at the club that the defensive midfielder – still in his early 20s – began to show his full potential. His fighting spirit and enormous physical strength earned the nickname ‘L’Homme Avec Quatres Poumons’ (The Man With Four Lungs) in the French press.
Sevilla bought Krychowiak for a reputed €5m in summer 2014, sporting director Monchi once more demonstrating his eye for a bargain. Krychowiak learned Spanish very quickly and acclimatised easily on the pitch too. His two UEFA Europa League successes over the next two campaigns made him the first Polish player to win the new-look competition. Moreover, he had the honour of scoring in the 2015 final against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – staged in the Polish capital Warsaw.
Krychowiak’s Paris switch was great news for former goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who had grown tired of being Poland’s most expensive player – a tag held since his 2001 move from Feyenoord to Liverpool for around €7m. “That record already has too long a beard,” Dudek had joked to UEFA.com earlier this year.
“I had two great years at Sevilla,” Krychowiak added. “I became a better, more complete player. The fact Unai Emery, my coach at Sevilla, moved to PSG, made my decision easier. I like his style and I am very glad we will continue to work together.” Paris supporters should be pleased too.