In a summer of significant incomings and outgoings at Arsenal, Matteo Guendouzi was perhaps a signing who flew somewhat under the radar.
The 19-year-old was bought in from Ligue 2 side FC Lorient for a fee of around £7m, and was expected to feature largely in cup games and continue his footballing education in north London.
However, the Frenchman has started in more than half of Arsenal’s league games so far this season, and his performances in the middle of the park have drawn attention from intrigued spectators.
Wise beyond his years
As expected with any young footballer, Guendouzi has shown inconsistencies in his game. Whether it be dwelling on the ball for a fraction too long, or attempting ambitious passes which fail to reach the intended target. But the dynamic midfielder has wowed fans with his quality on the ball, and more noticeably, his maturity and fearless attitude.
Guendouzi has started matches against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, and has not once looked overawed or daunted at the prospect of featuring in such high profile games. Instead, he has taken to the pitch with an air of confidence and played his football with confidence and assurance.
Guendouzi has an impressive range of passing, a quite incredible engine and is a progressive ball carrier. He also never shies away from challenges and has drawn several fouls with his clever footwork and upper body movement. Despite not yet registering a goal or assist in the Premier League, his role in the Arsenal team cannot be underestimated, as he boasts an impressive passing accuracy and 86.7% and averages 1.7 tackles per game.
At just 19 years of age, Guendouzi’s potential is exciting the Gunners faithful, with many being optimistic that he can form a partnership in the centre of midfield with fellow summer recruit Lucas Torreira for years to come.
Repaying Unai Emery’s faith
Upon signing Guendouzi, Arsenal boss Unai Emery said "We are delighted Matteo is joining us. He is a talented young player and a lot of clubs were interested in him. He has big potential and gained good first-team experience last season with Lorient. He wants to learn and improve and will be an important part of our first-team squad."
Even with such a glowing review, few would’ve expected Guendouzi to feature as heavily as he has so far this term. The ex-Paris Saint-Germain academy graduate has become a key figure in Emery’s side and scored his first goal for the Gunners in the Europa League group stages in an away tie against Qarabag FK.
At the beginning of the season, his frequent inclusion in the starting XI may have understandably raised a few eyebrows. But having shown so much promise in his first season at the top level, many are now beginning to wonder just how good Guendouzi could become.
In an otherwise mixed season for the north Londoners in terms of results, Guendouzi has provided a beacon of hope. Having gained invaluable first-team experience, it will be interesting to monitor his progress as he looks to become a permanent fixture in the Arsenal team.