What a find Matteo Guendouzi has been.
The 20 year old Frenchman defied belief in his first season to show maturity that belied his tender years. Often the first choice in central midfield, Guendouzi showed an incredible range of passing but most of all, a hunger for the ball no matter what situation. Whether we be losing, winning or he had made an error or not, Guendouzi wants his foot on the ball and to get us going forward.
Physically he may be slight, but his engine doesn’t stop and he was often the protagonist in getting us on the front foot when under pressure. All of this in his rookie season in the top flight shows that this rough diamond has much more capacity for growth.
Can we hope to hold onto the player that he promises to become? Much of his situation smacks of our Cesc Fabregas fiasco, aside from the homesick pangs for Catalonia. Guendouzi looks to be our midfield lynchpin for years to come, much like Fabregas did. As Cesc rose to prominence, so did Barcelona’s interest in him, culminating in a return home for a player we had polished into one of the best in Europe.
Guendouzi’s first call up to France’s international squad will do nothing to dampen the heightening fervour surrounding the crazy-haired midfielder. For a country so blessed with talent, a call up is hugely significant. Then there are his performances.
Guendouzi ran the Arsenal show for us against Spurs in our last game, pulling strings in our back third and the last third. His pass for Aubameyang’s equaliser was simply exquisite and for the entire game he was available for the ball in possession and tracking back effectively when we didn’t have it.
This season will see Guendouzi do this with more frequency and consistency, but much credit has to go to Unai Emery for Guendouzi’s improvement. A youngster with talent is one thing, but having the bravery to play him week in week out and to suffer the mistakes that inexperience brings means that the Spaniard can take pride in what a player Guendouzi is becoming.
Let us hope we can enjoy the player in our shirt for some time yet.