Matteo Guendouzi has gone from Arsenal favorite to forgotten flop … now where he started in France
In the fall of 2019, Matteo Guendouzi was in seventh heaven. A popular figure in the Arsenal squad, nominated for the FIFA Golden Boy Award and having spent his first senior call-up in France, the midfielder was on big things.
How times have changed for the 22-year-old, who was spat out by the Gunners after 12 months of turmoil at Emirates Stadium.
The midfielder sealed a return to Marseille on Tuesday as part of a loan with obligation to purchase for the French side, after Guendouzi confirmed his exit from the club on social media this week.
Matteo Guendouzi (left) was popular at Arsenal and was nominated for the Golden Boy in 2019
The midfielder transferred to Marseille this week on loan with obligation to purchase
Much was expected of the Frenchman in England, who appears to be one of Arsenal’s all-time bargains at just Â£ 8million. Unai Emery has trusted him for more than 50 appearances due to his drive, straightforwardness and connection with supporters, with the midfielder reaching his peak at the start of his second season from mid-2019.
He has dazzled in home games against Tottenham and Aston Villa over the past few months in charge of Emery, delivering quality assists and being a brilliant spark amid some poor results.
But Emery’s sacking at the end of November 2019 triggered Guendouzi’s decline at the club. Mikel Arteta came in and gave the Frenchman a chance – an opportunity that was taken away from him at the end of a campaign he started so well.
Guendouzi excelled under Unai Emery (right) who played him regularly for 18 months
But Emery’s successor Mikel Arteta (right) ended up dropping him due to his discipline
The Frenchman started Arsenal’s first two games after the coronavirus break – losses to Manchester City and Brighton – and that was the last time Gunners fans saw him in red and white.
Indeed, Guendouzi’s last singular moment at Arsenal was to strangle Brighton striker Neal Maupay at the final whistle, in a match where the Seagulls man inflicted a serious injury on Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno. before scoring the winning goal in stoppage time.
Arteta immediately let the young midfielder down and although the Arsenal manager declined to explain in detail why he was dropped it was clear attitude and discipline were at the center of the conflict.
Guendouzi’s last game at Arsenal saw him smother Neal Maupay (left) after a 2-1 loss at Brighton
âSome things have to change, and nothing has changed,â was Arteta’s first public statement regarding Guendouzi in the summer of 2020.
The Spaniard then said he wanted “players who respect the values ââwe want to implement, who are 100% attached to our culture”.
The way Arteta would continue to refer to how he wants his team to control “the way he reacts to certain things, the way he behaves in training, during games,” implies that the incident of Maupay had a bigger impact than just a tiff post-match.
While the incident with the Brighton striker was shocking and unexpected, a little more research from Arsenal’s hierarchy could have predicted that the midfielder would have been a contentious figure.
Exile Guendouzi described as “everyday pain” by one of his former coaches
The player’s former manager at Lorient, Mikel Landreau, described the Frenchman as an “everyday pain” regardless of his talent.
“He pissed me off terribly, he’s very complicated to deal with,” said Landreau.
âSometimes he has behaviors in a group that are very, very harsh, but in a way, that’s what he is: big. He does not let go, he is a fighter. He has an oversized ego, but he definitely needs it.
âI think he has to be in the spotlight, be a leader. He must be a captain or vice-captain, and he will try to make the most of it.
– Because that’s the way he is. And that means his teammates have to accept him as he is, because he is painful on a daily basis. He is painful on a daily basis, but on the other hand, he has talent. ‘
Arteta winning the FA Cup while Guendouzi was shunned justified him dropping the midfielder
Guendouzi has not appeared on an Arsenal squad for the remainder of the 2019-20 season, with academy player Matt Smith – who spent the next campaign in Swindon and Charlton – getting the green light on the candidate at the Golden Boy.
Arteta leading Arsenal to the FA Cup that summer along with other midfielders helped justify the exclusion of Guendouzi. Dani Ceballos’ loan for another season and the signing of Thomas Partey for Â£ 45million took Guendouzi’s chances of an Arsenal recall away.
After spending the entire 2020 transfer window trying to find him a new permanent challenge, a loan to Hertha Berlin had to be made for Arsenal. Only a superb turnaround would have turned Arteta’s head away from lingering problems at his own club, Guendouzi’s stay in Germany was neither a success nor a failure.
On top of that, Arteta has seen firsthand the positive impacts that youngsters can have on the team. Bukayo Saka is the darling golden boy of Arsenal and now England, while Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli are set for more first-team action next season.
Meanwhile, the man named alongside Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho as one of the best young players in the world two years ago is now back in France, where Arsenal snatched him in 2018 to give it a chance to grow.
Guendouzi was loaned to Hertha Berlin last season but hasn’t impressed much