Matteo Guendouzi to Marseille – Wasted Untapped Potential
Matteo Guendouzi began his career in Paris St. Germain’s academy at the age of six before moving to Lorient’s academy in 2014. He featured in the Lorient II side in the lower French division before making the step up to the Lorient senior team in the Ligue Un 2016-17 campaign.
Sadly, Lorient suffered the ignominy of relegation at the end of that season, but Guendouzi continued to feature for the outfit, playing 18 games in the Ligue 2 campaign before he was snapped by Arsenal in the region of £7m plus bonuses. Arsenal head coach, Unai Emery, was full of praise for the youngster following his arrival from Lorient,
“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.”
Despite his tender age, Guendouzi was a mainstay in Emery’s midfield, featuring 48 times across all competitions that season, including 33 in the Premier League. Guendouzi continued to get featured for team in his second season in the Premier League, but Emery received the axe and was replaced by Mikel Arteta, and his game time became somewhat sporadic under the new gaffer.
Guendouzi fell out of favor with Arteta following his altercation with Neal Maupay in the defeat at Brighton in June 2020. It was believed that some meetings and engagements were held with the Arsenal hierarchy following his conduct but he was left out of training and the writing was on the wall. There was also an incident in a warm weather trip to Dubai where he allegedly got into a heated bust-up with teammate, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, which led to an angry exchange between the player and the coaching staff.
At the start of the 2020-21 season, he was shipped out on loan to Hertha BSC where he notched up 24 appearances. While in Hertha, his manager, Pal Dardai, tagged him as rebellious, and confirmed that the German outfit was not going to retain his services following the completion of the loan spell. Guendouzi returned to Arsenal and was loaned to Olympique Marseille as it was evident that he no longer had a future with the club following his off the field shenanigans.
Last season at Marseille, Guendouzi was very integral to Jorge Sampaoli, playing 56 games in all competitions, which included all 38 Ligue Un games as well as 14 games in the Europa League and UEFA Conference League, but despite featuring regularly for Marseille, he still had an incident with his teammate, Gerson, in the 3-2 defeat to RC Lens. Gerson had to restrained by his teammates, as Guendouzi scurried off the scene.
At just 23, Guendouzi has his future ahead of him and he is a player that has so much potential. Unai Emery saw this potential and thrust him into first team action in a big club like Arsenal, but he could only have gotten better if he could match his ability on the pitch with his behavior off it. Even beyond Arsenal, Guendouzi attitude problems came to the fore in the other clubs he played with but what you would regard as a successful loan spell, Marseille activated the loan-to-buy clause on his contract, allowing him to join the French outfit on a permanent basis.
If Guendouzi had a better attitude and remained at Arsenal, he clearly would have been first in line after Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka, and maybe, the club would not had secured the services of Albert Sambi Lokonga, or retained the services of Mo Elneny.
Well, he’s gone for good, and we can only thank him for the handful of appearances he made for the club.
So much for that wasted untapped potential.
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