Manchester United and Chelsea are among a number of clubs across Europe eyeing Polish defender Sebastien Walkiewicz, who is currently plying his trade at Cagliari.
Lazio, Inter, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid are on the list of suitors for the Pole, who made his international debut in October.
90 Minutes expressed interest in the 20-year-old earlier this week.
Here’s a look at various things fans need to know about this rising talent.
Walukiewicz only started making regular starts for Cagliari in June / Enrico Locci/Getty Images
Walukiewicz was just 18 when Cagliari bought him in January 2019. He spent the remainder of the campaign in Poland, helping Pogon Szczecin to a mid-table Ekstraklasa finish, and headed to Italy that summer.
The youngster was initially part of the first-team squad without playing more than occasionally. He spent most of the opening campaign on the bench, not surprising given his age and lack of experience – his league debut even ended in a 4-0 defeat by Juventus.
But when the suspended season resumed in June, Valkiewicz fought his way into the Cagliari XI on a regular basis. He had gone 12 Serie A games without a win before his first real run in the team and had been without a clean sheet since November. And although the slide down the table continued, results improved overall and the 20-year-old has kept his place in 2020/21, starting every game so far.
International recognition came when he began his senior international career for Poland this month.
The big club was already looking at Valkiewicz in 2018 / MB Media / Getty Images
Although it was Cagliari who made the decision and signed Valukewicz in 2019, reports in late 2018 suggested that a number of top clubs were already aware of him at the time.
Arsenal were believed to have scouts eyeing the defender at the time, while Liverpool and Barcelona were also said to be monitoring him. Southampton, a club with a strong record of developing young talent, were also linked.
Valukiewicz is signed to Cagliari, potentially until 2024 / Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images
Cagliari have the immediate reign when it comes to Valukewicz’s future. He is under contract until 2023, a deal that includes an option to extend for another year.
While a sale is ultimately inevitable for a club of their standing, they are under no pressure to accept a low-ball approach from potential suitors.
Walukiewicz is known for his aerial prowess / TF-Images/Getty Images
‘Magnificent in the air’ is how Cagliari described Walukiewicz when they announced the completion of his transfer from Pogon Szczecin in January 2019.
Despite clubs’ tendency to play possession-based football away from defence, aerial ability is one of the key attributes any elite defender should possess. No club with an aerially commanding center back should be too vulnerable to set pieces.
Walokiewicz is comfortable with the ball at his feet / Press Focus/MB Media/Getty Images
Standing at around 6’2, Walokiewicz is similar in height to Rio Ferdinand or Giorgio Chiellini and is a few inches shorter than Virgil van Dijk.
His aerial ability has already been covered, but Valukiewicz is also considered confident with the ball at his feet, another important tick as top clubs look for all-round defensive talent. Bringing the ball out of defense to initiate attacks is another valuable skill.
His passing accuracy in Serie A this season is just shy of 90%, while he had two dribbles in action for Poland against Italy this month and averaged close to a dribble per game in Serie A last season. Stayed.
Statistics via WhoScored
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