The least surprising Arsenal transfer rumor of the summer: Matteo Guendouzi is likely headed back to France. According to multiple reports in the French media, the young central midfielder is likely on his way to Marseille and may have already agreed to personal terms. The two clubs still have to negotiate a transfer fee, but that shouldn’t be too much of a stumbling block. Per The Athletic, Guendouzi has “burned his bridges” in North London, and the club will be glad to see the back of him.
The Gunners purchased Guendouzi in the summer of 2018 from French second division side (at the time) Lorient. He made 57 appearances for Arsenal, mostly during Unai Emery’s time in charge. But things went south quickly when Mikel Arteta took over. Guendouzi had disciplinary issues at the club’s February 2020 Dubai in-season minicamp. Then came the Neal Maupay incident, after which Guendouzi trained away from the team for the rest of Project Restart. Reportedly, he refused to apologize for his actions, and doubled-down on his refusal when he later met with higher ups at the club.
So Arsenal loaned him out to Hertha Berlin this season, where he made 24 appearances before fracturing a bone in his foot in early May. Hertha coach Arne Friedrich spoke well of his performances but also acknowledged that Guendouzi was going through “football pubetry” in a nod to his temper and stubbornness. Former Arsenal player Emmanuel Petit shared similar sentiments, saying that Guendouzi needed to learn how to control his emotions and keep his mouth shut if he wanted to be successful.
Apparently the advice didn’t take. When Emery’s Villareal won the Europa League, Guendouzi tweeted pointed congratulations to his former manager that was clearly a not-so-veiled shot at Mikel Arteta and Arsenal. So much for my personal hope that he’d grow up and mend fences at the Emirates.
It’s disappointing because he’s got plenty of talent and athletic ability that could be developed into quite the useful player if he could get his head on straight, both on the pitch and off. It’s doubly disappointing because his attitude and antics have significantly depressed his transfer value. After his first season at Arsenal, he might have fetched £30M or more, now the Gunners will be extremely lucky to get half that. One French outlet is reporting that Arsenal are being “greedy” asking for £10M.
Oh well. Arsenal are thought to have paid £7M for Guendouzi. If they get that much back and rid themselves of a headache, c’est la vie. But darn, what could have been if he wasn’t a chucklehead.