It started with a tweet:
We haven’t seen a character like Mattéo Guendouzi for quite some time at the Arsenal, have we?
For years, we’ve been served well-mannered, cool-headed guys who would never dare to disagree – at least not publicly; there was the Xhaka saga, with the Swiss player lashing out at fans before being stripped of the captaincy but it was more of one-off burst from a very disciplined player, rather than a footballer just being petulant.
There’s been Nicolas Anelka before, then we had Robin van Persie arriving with quite a reputation but it’s been since William Gallas’ antics in Birmingham that we haven’t had a proper outburst, with the player and the Club unable to reconcile.
There have been minor issues here and there, along the way, but we were always the nice guys.
…too nice, perhaps?
I’m not saying that Mattéo Guendouzi was right in doing what he did on the pitch in Brighton or in the aftermath, when he allegedly refused to apologize; Mikel Arteta was – and still is – perfectly right to apply the same rules he served to Dani Ceballos and Ainsley Maitland-Niles before.
I do believe that we should keep the player, though, and not give up on him just yet: if you try to look at this from the outside, we currently have the France U21 captain and number 10, who’s been already called-up to the senior team and amassed almost 60 Premier League games in two seasons, at 21 years of age.
It’s worth considering that Mattéo Guendouzi didn’t do this while playing for Malta and Salford City (no disrespect here) but he did while playing with the most talent-packed national team in the World and one of the top Clubs in England. There is a player there, somewhere, and it’s our duty to get the most out of it.
Considering the current market and our squad, it would be a mistake to let him go now: even for those who want him sold, selling him now would get you a very low fee, compared to what he might bring next summer, when back in the rotation and putting up some good displays.
Even on the fringes, Mattéo Guendouzi could still impress in the domestic cups as well as in the Europa League and therefore see his sale value going up; he’s a very young, promising player we bought for £7m and there is no reason we should be happy to accept less than twice or thrice that amount.
When you compare the transfer fees for fellow French midfielders over the years, you see how much some Clubs were ready to pay for Nbomélé, Bakayoko, Sissoko or Schnederlin – why would we settle for less?
It really is a win-win solution for us, especially with a midfield unit so understaffed: keep him, train him, mould him into the player he could be – or the closest to that – and then make your decision.
This time next year we might have an established, composed midfielder or have a much more valuable asset to sell and generate the funds we need to keep building a competitive team.
That tweet seems to suggest that Mattéo Guendouzi is ready to listen, at last, and that alone is worth a shot at getting him back into the squad; it’s going to be a long, painful process but will make him real good, after years of being the best player at every age level: he was a hot prospect at PSG, he was a mainstay at Lorient at 17 years of age and found himself in the starting XI at the Arsenal, right from day one.
It might get to your head, at that point, and you might start to believe the hype yourself.
So, unless that tweet is a pure PR exercise, void of any true meaning, the French midfielder seems to finally be ready to start fresh and fight for his place in the team; he seems to be finally ready to embrace Mikel Arteta’s non-negotiable terms and get into the path which successfully transformed some of his teammates in starters and top performers.
This time next year, we might all be here remembering how it all started with a tweet.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.