I think it would be fair to say that most Gunners like what they have seen so far, of Emery’s 5th summer signing from Lorient. Therefore, Gunners Town thought we should get the low down on the young midfielder from the guys behind the French club’s Twitter News and Fan account @ASMerlus
GT– On the face of it, the jump from Frances Ligue 2 to the Premier League seems huge. What do are the main attributes you think the Arsenal scouting team have identified?
AS Merlus – Right from the start, Guendouzi impressed pretty much everyone at Lorient when he was promoted from the reserves during the 2016/2017 season. At only 17, when we were struggling in the Ligue 1 he stood out. His passing ability, dribbling skills and his creativity were very impressive at such a young age.
In addition he showed and aggressive streak, which was crucial in Ligue 2, last season. During the season, there was a team with Guendouzi and a team without him. We were clearly better with him on the pitch as he was a little bit playing like a “box to box” player. I think all those qualities and the fact that he is still only 19 convinced the scouting team that he could be a great addition to Arsenal’s team. I am sure he is going to impress everyone and Emery is going to help him fulfil his potential.
GT – The fact that Matteo has turned down overtures from Morocco to switch his international allegiances suggests either the player has huge confidence or he knows the French hierarchy have confidence in him. Would you agree?
AS Merlus – Guendouzi has a huge confidence in himself and as he grew up in France and learned football here at Lorient and PSG, so I do not think was ever going to choose Morocoo over France. For now he’s playing with the U-19 France team but I think that if he manages to get some playing time with Arsenal, and I’m pretty sure he will play with Emery who is known for giving chances to young players, he could be a French international in the coming few years.
GT – He played only 17 games for Lorient in LIgue 2 last season. Is this because of injury, too young or not quite trusted?
He was available during the whole season and was one of our best players, but he had an argument with our head coach during the season that led to him being excluded from the first team for a large part of the season because of that. Well at least that is the official communication of FC Lorient but many fans think it is more a contract issue because he only had one year left on his contract. Us fans do not truly know if he made a mistake or not but without this incident, he could have played many more games.
GT – When he played for Lorient where did he mostly play and in what formation? 442, 4231, 433 etc
AS Merlus – He has been educated in a 4-4-2 with the U-17 and the reserve team and started to play in Ligue 1 as a “box to box” midfielder in the 4-4-2. Under the current manager, he mostly played in a 4-3-3 and he had more responsibilities on the creative side of the game even if he still had to defend.
GT- From what I have seen he has strength, an eye for a pass and a turn of pace but often the real test for a young deep lying midfielder is game intelligence. Is he mature beyond his years?
I will not say he is mature, but he knows he is talented and he showed it during the pre-season with Arsenal. However, it still has to work on his behaviour on the pitch. He is often complaining to the referees, he falls down way to easily and in such a physical league, I think he may struggle at the beginning if he does not change his game and attitude. In addition, the context at Arsenal is different, the manager and all the staff is going to have high expectations regarding his performances and I think it is really going to help him.
GT – Do you think he can make an impact this season for Arsenal of will he have to make do with match time in the Cups perhaps? There is strong competition in the midfield at Arsenal, so in your view could he move ahead of Elneny for example?
AS Merlus – That is a big question, with Elneny, Ramsey, Torreira, Xhaka, I do not think he will be a starter next season. I hope he will have some game time in the League Cup and at the beginning of the FA Cup. Although, I know Ramsey’s future is still not decided and he is an injury prone player, and we still do not know how Emery is going manage his team.
Will he rotate more often the players that under Wenger? Overall, I think it is too early to answer this question. However, if Guendouzi has an opportunity to show himself in the PL and he manages to impress Emery, he could stay in the team. I mean, who would have thought that Coquelin would emerge in the team back in 2015?
GT– Our last major purchase from your club has gone on to be quite a success at Arsenal. If Laurent Koscielny cannot get back to his very best would you welcome him back?
AS Merlus – Of course, we would welcome him back! He was such a good player during his time at Lorient, probably our best centre back. It is more than a simple thought because the owner of the FC Lorient had a discussion with him last November and apparently, Koscielny told him that he wanted to end his career at Lorient. Even if he will not be at his best, it will be a real pleasure to see him again under the Lorient jersey!
Exciting times ahead for Gunner and Matteo himself – It just remains for me to thank Hugo and Johann from @ASMerlus for their wonderful insight.