Matteo Guendouzi has told the Arsenal board that he would be open to leaving the club. French newspaper L’Equipe (translated and summarized by Get Football News France) reported today that the midfielder recently met with the top brass to discuss the Neil Maupay incident and that the discussion turned to the Frenchman’s future at the club.
Guendouzi has attracted interest from Inter Milan, Juventus, Manchester United, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. Arsenal are not necessarily opposed to selling under the right circumstances, but they are looking for at least €40M in return.
So where has this all come from? It seems to stem from a lack of playing time under Mikel Arteta as compared to under Unai Emery. Guendouzi started the first 13 Premier League matches of the season but has only started 4 of 12 PL matches since the coaching change.
The relationship between Arteta and Guendouzi isn’t a bad one, but it definitely isn’t a great one, either. Remember, Guendouzi was dropped from the squad back in February for a training ground altercation with a teammate and was disciplined for an incident during the training camp in Dubai. I dismissed them as a manifestation of his youthful exuberance and much ado about nothing at the time. With Guendouzi again dropped from the matchday squad for Southampton seemingly because of the Maupay incident, I can’t write it off quite as easily.
I don’t like that Guendouzi has gone with “play me or I’ll leave” as a tactic, but I think it’s just that — a tactic. To me, this reads more as “I want playing time” rather than “I want out” from him. At least for now.
There’s something Mikel Arteta doesn’t like, whether it’s on the pitch, off the pitch, or a combination is anybody’s guess. He’s clearly trying to get Guendouzi to change. We’ll see how the midfielder responds, although early returns are “not well.”
Some of the responsibility to change lies with Arteta, too. It’s reasonable to expect everybody at the club to meet some baseline level of attitude, conduct, whatever. Beyond that, the best managers adapt and mold individual expectations to fit player capabilities.
I like that Matteo Guendouzi is feisty. And I get that he wants to play, all good players do. I don’t even mind the trash talking on the pitch (but if you dish it out, you’ve got to be able to take it). Attitude and ego can be a good thing. But Guendouzi’s attitude could do with a bit of an adjustment, because right now, he’s coming across as a petulant teenager.
He may mature out of it; he only turned 21 two months ago. Or this could be a recurring theme that makes Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal not the right fit. I’d like to see him stay at the club because I think he’s going to be a good player, but I don’t think he’s a sure-fire, can’t miss, untouchable talent.
Getting €40M or more for him then intelligently reinvesting it in the squad wouldn’t be the end of the world. Liverpool got a king’s ransom for Coutinho. Spurs got a bundle for Gareth Bale. Selling good players for big money helps you remake a roster. Arsenal supposedly need cash, and I don’t see people lining up to buy the 28- to 30-something year-old roster bloat the club has accumulated.
The bottom line is that it’s tough to read the tea leaves with this Guendouzi situation. Is it a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” bonafide red flag, “this is a problem” type thing? Or is it your run-of-the-mill something happens that an agent doesn’t like and he calls his newspaper buddies with a story to fire back at the club? Time will tell.