Grzegorz Krychowiak: jet-setting midfielder piloting Abha's survival bid

Grzegorz Krychowiak cuts a unique figure.

A look at his Instagram profile shows the former Polish international midfielder in a host of distinctive locations around the world. They aren’t the usual spots you would expect to find footballers on their travels.

From Uzbekistan to Easter Island via Panama, and sporting his now-recognisable long hair and a trimmed beard, Krychowiak gives off the image of a tech millionaire rather than a professional footballer.

Yet, with the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain man heading into his twilight on the pitch, his worldly experience and goals have been vital for Abha as they try to complete a great escape in the Roshn Saudi League.

The opportunity to link up with former Poland national team manage Czeslaw Michniewicz at the start of the season proved too tempting for Krychowiak. The defensive midfielder had already sampled the rough and tumble of the RSL having enjoyed a loan stint at Al Shabab last campaign.

However, the connection between player and manager wouldn't last long: Michniewicz was fired at the start of October after a run of four consecutive defeats in September.

Abha floundered in the relegation zone, and things were looking bleak before the side from the southwest, second from bottom in the standings, hired South African Pitso Mosimane in December.

Mosimane, who last season guided Al Ahli out of the First Division at the first time of asking but departed in the summer, conceded upon his appointment that he wanted to finish his own story in the Kingdom.

Yet it was the introduction of the charismatic tactician and a quirk in the transfer market that has led to Krychowiak’s transformation at Abha. With leading scorer Karl Toko Ekambi moving to Al Ettifaq late in the transfer window, it left Mosimane confronted with a tactical issue.

Instead of going into the market, the coach elected to push Krychowiak further forward. The result has reshaped Abha’s fortunes.

Since the turn of the year, Krychowiak has chipped in with five goals, including vital braces against both Al Tai and Al Fateh. These match-winning performances have brought about six precious points in his team’s fight to beat the drop.

It’s not only with goals that Krychowiak has made an impact. After a career that has spanned five different countries, the experience of the 34-year-old has been crucial in guiding Abha through difficult matches.

That leadership was on display after an 8-0 humbling at the hands of Al Nassr in Matchweek 26 earlier this month. Lesser teams may have crumbled in the next game, but Abha showed plenty of heart to run out 2-1 winners against Al Fateh.

True to form, Krychowiak was decisive, scoring in each half. The victory lifted Abha out of the bottom three for the first time since November. With seven rounds remaining, they sit a point clear.

This weekend, the 15th-placed side make the trip to Riyadh to face off against Al Shabab. Back on his former stomping ground, the well-travelled Krychowiak might just be main man once more, seeking another match-winning performance to propel Abha away from RSL relegation.