Mauricio Pellegrino has made Polish defender Jan Bednarek the first signing of his reign from Lech Poznan.
Bednarek, a 21-year-old centre back, has signed for a reported fee of £5 million. This makes him the most expensive Polish export, ahead of Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszcykowski.
Southampton beat various other European clubs to the highly rated defender’s signature. Hannover 96 had a fee of £2.2 million rejected and Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt and Sampdoria were also reportedly preparing bids for Bednarek.
The 21-year-old has represented Poland at youth level from under-17 to under-21 level. He also played all three of Poland’s group matches at the under-21 European Championships finals.
Bednarek began his career with Lech Poznan, making his senior debut in 2013 at just 17-years-old. He was used sparingly in his first two seasons and made only 2 appearances in their 2014/15 title winning campaign.
However, he gained some valuable playing time at Gornik Leczna where he managed 17 appearances. The team narrowly avoided relegation and Bednarek was also used as a central defensive midfielder due to his ball playing and passing abilities.
He established himself as a regular starter in Lech Poznan’s back line last season and made 31 appearances in all competitions. They conceded only 22 goals in the Ekstraklasa, which was the best defensive record last term.
What to expect from Jan Bednarek
It’s clear that Jan Bednarek has been signed for the future by Mauricio Pellegrino. Southampton’s defensive dilemma could be worsened if Virgil Van Dijk departs to Liverpool this summer.
Bednarek may be 21-years-old but he stands at 6 ft 2” and uses his stature to great effectiveness. He’s strong and has great jumping ability, similar to that of Virgil Van Dijk.
Jack Stephens, a 23-year-old academy graduate, has also signed a new five-year deal at St Marys. The English central defender made 23 appearances in all competitions for Southampton during the 2016/17 campaign and represented England’s under-21s in Poland this summer.
The English and Polish duo could form a solid partnership in the coming years under Mauricio Pellegrino. Jose Fonte left for West Ham in January and Martin Caceres was released at the end of the season.
Unless Southampton purchase another central defender during the summer transfer window, then it seems the pair could enjoy a substantial amount of playing time next season. From early indications it seems newly appointed manager Pellegrino is building for the future.
Bednarek is a raw talent; he’s quick but can be naïve in his decision making. For example, he was culpable for making a mistake in the build-up to Slovakia’s winning goal in Poland’s opening game of the under-21 European Championships.
He rushed into his challenge too early and Slovakia subsequently scored the decisive goal. However, his chances of starting could be enhanced due to his ability of playing in other positions.
Jan Bednarek could potentially become a key member of Southampton’s team in the long-term future. On paper, he’s designed to play in the Premier League due to his physical attributes and playing style.
3 Things to Know About Jan Bednarek
• His brother Filip Bednarek plays as a goalkeeper for Dutch club De Graafschap.
• He’s now the most expensive Polish export, leaving Poland for more than both Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszcykowski did.
• After receiving two yellow cards, Bednarek was sent off in the final group stage match defeat against England.